My first hint that Gordon Skagit Farm might be something special was when I heard it was called an autumn market.
Not a pumpkin farm. Not a harvest party. But a autumn market.
I am not really a fan of pumpkin farms or harvest parties.
But an autumn market? To me, that sounds natural and unstructured and enticingly real.
So I was intrigued from the get go.
^My daughters and I parked the car and followed the way in, marked out for us with tables, bins and colorful heaps of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes.
The path led us into - you guessed it - a charming outdoor marketplace. Gravel crunched underfoot as I walked to the middle of the courtyard formed by a series of old outbuildings.
^ Inside and outside the outbuildings, sprinkled in fact all over the property, were more rustic displays of gorgeous fall produce.
^ Items ranged from the ordinary
^ to the sublime
^ Every which way I turned my head. the displays grew more fanciful
^ and eclectic.
^ Here and there, significant pieces of fall-inspired art hung tucked among the produce, sometimes in counterpoint to the humble vegetables,
^ other times, riffing off familiar friends.
^ Here's another pumpkin painting hoisted up on the back of this old beast of a flat bed. which helps show the scale of the artwork. In a word, it's big.
^ The farm's branding features a lean red fox who made appearances here and there around the market.
I am always a fan of fuzzy red animals.
Also capturing my attention and affection: pops of pink blooms.
I am always a fan a pink flowers.
^ As much as I enjoyed the diversity of the displays, my attention drifted always back to the pumpkins:
^ Balanced by yet another beautiful old barn.
^Piled in pale heaps against the shrubs and ivy.
^ Resting on the radiator of an ancient old farm truck.
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^ Beyond the marketplace lay the working fields of the farm, and we were cordially invited to stroll off into the wide open spaces. So we did.
^ We wandered through a corn field cut this way and that with muddy paths. Ambling about as the afternoon sun sunk low, we had no concerns about finding our way out.
^ In fact, as my daughters charged ahead, I took my sweet time, enjoying one hundred percent solitude among the musky cornstalks as the wind rattled their dried tassels up above.
^ Eventually we bushwhacked our way to civilization. Or at least the pumpkin fields. They were a joyous riot of orange bubbles bobbing on a sea of green under low skies.
^ As we walked back toward the market, we watched a family come toward us to explore the fields. Mom and Dad rambled along peaceably while their two boys, ages maybe seven and five, raced down the lane at top speed. Their hair blew wild in the breeze, they sprinted straight toward and through every mud puddle in sight, and they laughed and shrieked at the top of their lungs for the sheer joy of it all.
I smiled at them as they raced past us. I noticed that the parents appeared even happier than their boys, if that was possible.
And I decided that I like autumn markets very much.
Then we gathered up our load of pumpkins and gourds, as well as farm fresh apples, carrots, potatoes leeks, honey, and cider. With our lungs full of fresh October air, we climbed in the car and drove home.
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For more information and gorgeous photos of Gordon Skagit Farm, go to their website here.