Pumpkin patch dreams & nature’s healing

This past weekend, we ventured to the Gatineau, Quebec side for a farm adventure. Having grown up in Ottawa but spent much of my childhood crossing the bridge with my parents, driving there again — with my own family this time around — after decades, was very reminiscent of old times. I loved the drive there. There’s something relaxing about the Aylmer side of Gatineau. All the nature and trees… it was incredibly scenic and calming.

When we arrived at Potager Eardley, I noted just how busy it was. It was buzzing with human bees. There was beauty in the farm’s simplicity, which I appreciated. There was just enough to keep kids and families entertained and smiling. There was a simple playground, some farm animals, and the shop where one could purchase fresh fruits and veggies, fall decorations, and baked goods as well as coffee. We ordered a waffle with fruits and whipped cream for Keaton, which he — and ultimately, we — enjoyed greatly.

An activity that we did was apple picking. We embarked on the tractor wagon to the apple orchard, and upon arrival, I noted how the apples just adorned the trees like fall ornaments. There was an abundance of apples. While we all enjoyed apple picking, the experience was really dedicated to my mom, who finds the utmost joy in the activity. As soon as she hopped off the wagon, she was off on her own solo adventure filling her bag. It was a funny and cute sight to see her enjoy something so much. (It’s rare to see my mom do anything fun or for herself, so these moments are very meaningful.)

Mom’s bag was filled with Gala apples (her pick), and oh boy, were they ever crisp, juicy, and scrumptious! I don’t think I’ve ever had a Gala apple that fresh. Keaton also enjoyed an apple or two whilst running around the orchard and being playful. It was so sweet to see him hanging by Mama’s side while she was picking apples. He adores her so much, as well as his Kong-Kong. Following our apple picking adventure, we ventured back to the farm to embark on another adventure: pumpkin picking at the pumpkin patch, at the farm’s second location.

We were about to leave when Keaton wanted to stay back and play at the hay bales. There were plenty of kids there, and that’s where he met his new friend, David, who was a bit older than he was. At this point, being pregnant and tired, I’d waited in the car with my mom, while my husband and dad stayed out with Keaton. According to my husband, Keaton had had a blast running around with the older boy, who was so smitten with him he’d call him, “baby, baby!” I’m not sure what it is — perhaps it’s his charisma and confidence — but older children tend to gravitate towards Keaton, and vice versa. For some reason, they just love playing with him. It’s so endearing to watch.

Finally, we drove to the farm’s pumpkin patch, which was located only five minutes from the main farm by car. As we were driving into the parking lot, I was astonished by all the orange pumpkins I saw from afar. I must’ve screeched with excitement many times over. I was so excited to grab a wagon and run off to the fields. It was the most magical autumn sight I’d ever witnessed my whole life.

I’ve always wanted to go to a pumpkin patch ever since I was young. I just never had the opportunity, because without a car and without those around me who could venture far, it just wasn’t feasible. Finally, years later, I found myself at one; and it was the most dreamy pumpkin patch I could’ve ever imagined. There were thousands of pumpkins — an endless sight to behold — that were scattered geometrically to perfection in their chaos.

So far, I’ve been disappointed by the pumpkin patches at farms I’ve visited in Ottawa. The pumpkins in the pumpkin patches were either scarce, or there was just a display of pumpkins that were pre-picked and laid out in the fields. But this one was real; it really was where pumpkins had been harvested and grown. I may be a serious geek, but I definitely swooned over this pumpkin patch. One could be a mother and still be a big kid at heart, right?

Kong-Ma and Keaton also enjoyed the experience. Mom had picked a few lovely pumpkins, and Keaton and I both chose our own, as well. As we were leaving, my husband also bought a few drinks for Keaton that were in a cute pumpkin bottle. It was apple cider, which I wasn’t aware of. I could see now why Keaton drank both bottles, and why so many people rave over it. I don’t think I’ve ever had apple cider; but when I tasted it, it was so fresh and heavenly. We should’ve bought the jugs!

We’ve got a whole collection of pumpkins that we’ve been collecting from all the farms we’ve visited so far. I love how they add colour and vibrancy to the home. Though, I can’t say for now that we’ll stop there. Maybe our whole house will become a pumpkin patch itself.

For now, we’ve been keeping the pumpkins inside the house. We’d left Keaton’s pumpkins and gourds outside in our backyard once, alongside our mums — it was his wish — but the squirrels and chipmunks ate them! (Keaton’s reaction was hilarious. He was so distraught.) In fact, one day a squirrel came knocking at our door, mayhaps looking for Keaton, whom it knew owns all the good stuff.

My husband and I’s five-year anniversary, and two-year wedding anniversary, is fast approaching. Because we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving next weekend with my sister and parents — Canadian Thanksgiving happens earlier than its American counterpart — we decided to celebrate our anniversary earlier, and to do a very simple activity: a romantic walk along the Mer Bleue Bog Trail.

As a couple, we rarely have the time to do activities together in the midst of our busy lives. In fact, since Keaton was born — we’re also expecting a second child — we rarely went on a date or had time to ourselves. Thus, we really appreciate simple moments where we can simply be and exist alongside each other, and be present.

The Mer Bleue Bog Trail was a perfect pick for us that day. We ventured in the early morning, so it was still relatively calm and quiet, with very few visitors. We enjoyed the silence most of all, and hearing the trees and plants dancing with the wind’s shake and prod.

We’d stopped here for a short while. While it was a chilly morning, the sun shining directly at us provided us with a natural warm blanket on our skin. This is where I began to cry. It had been years since I last spent time in nature, by myself in solitude or with my dear husband. These were years where I’d felt the most distanced from nature, and ultimately, from myself. Now, I wasn’t with my son, who needed my mind, heart, and soul at every moment. I could finally feel myself feel and think.

Being in this moment allowed me to feel calm and safe. It was a conducive environment to concoct an emotional me. All that had been repressed had no choice but to surface. My husband held me as he encouraged me to let my emotions run their course. I can’t hide from myself when I’m in nature. Nature isn’t easily fooled. It’s a wise teacher. It sees, it invites, it opens, it heals.

I don’t think I’ve seen so many beautiful birds at once. There were blue jays, little black and white chubby birds that would sit on one’s hand (I’m not sure what they’re called), snakes, and numerous chipmunks — at least that my eyes were able to detect. It was my first time seeing a snake in person. It was a baby garter snake. I’d heard rustling in the leaves and thought it was a little chipmunk or frog, only to realize it was a snake! (I’m deathly afraid of snakes, but this little guy was actually, dare I say, cute.)

Our date lasted perhaps an hour or so — we then took off to grab some Montreal style smoked meat that my husband had been craving — but it was the most wholesome date we could’ve asked for. We came home to ourselves and to each other, and ultimately, to our son.

The walk was so neat that we invited my parents to come along to the Bog with Keaton later in the afternoon. Alas, we found ourselves there a second time that day. What a treat in nature it was.

We had to wake up Keaton from his nap in the car, because at that point, my parents had already been on the go. They were having fun without us! Keaton quickly caught up, and when he saw his Kong-Ma from afar, he yelled for them to wait for him. It was so cute.

The whole walk along the boardwalk was surprisingly relaxing with our energetic toddler. He listened well and stayed alongside us, and was a very good sport. We were very proud of him. He also liked to narrate — and police — what he was observing. Such a funny little dude.

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