When I was a kid, October would roll around and we would head over to this pumpkin patch out on Suisun Valley Road in Fairfield. It was across the street from an old fashioned general store with the word “Pioneer” in giant Old West font. In the warm late afternoon light, I would wander around the dusty field in search of the perfect pumpkin to carve into a cockeyed jack-o-lantern. Next to Christmas and my birthday, Halloween was one of the high points of the year during childhood.
Back then, the little valley was chock full of orchards spreading out from the oak tree dotted golden hills. Well, technically they are part of a mountain range, but I thought of them as hills. My Dad used to tell me how he would go out to the valley to pick peaches, apricots and walnuts to make a few extra bucks as a kid.
Last year, I went on a drive and found the area vastly changed. Many of the orchards and the pumpkin patch have been replaced by vineyards. The store is still there though! While it saddens me that future generations of children won’t spend any time hunting through the dirt looking for pumpkins in the shadow of those beautiful hills, at least there are some good wineries out there for me to enjoy now.