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BLOG-A Festive Peifer

My daughter has been in great anticipation of one thing since the beginning of school: Halloween. As the days have grown shorter and colder, she can sense its closeness. In her Kindergarten classroom she has been ticking off the days on the calendar. At home, our math lessons add the days left in September to the days in October: 2 + 31 = 33.

For her, a month is too long until the actual day, but this year she greatly appreciates that the season has now arrived. Last week, one neighbor converted their lawn to a mock graveyard, another to a cornfield with scarecrows, and on the last day of summer we stopped by Peifer Orchards, 4590 US 68 North, to pick out pumpkins. My girl has been eagerly planning a party cake for her friends, imaging the many characters she could dress up as, and asking her father about the whereabouts of her trick or treat pumpkin basket.

So when her class went on a field trip to Peifer Orchards yesterday, she was all in. The weather was a bit chilly—a perfect fall day, really—and the kids happily bounced around the morning’s activities. The Peifers gave the children demonstrations in cider making, took each class on a tractor ride, and let them pick their very own pumpkin from the orchard’s vegetable patch. Tiny pumpkins were the big hit especially with Ms Smith’s class, but a few students in Ms Denman’s ambitiously choose pumpkins as big as their heads.

Peifer Orchards is the picture of fall. Their main building greets visitors with rows of flowering mums and tall sturdy pumpkins lined up as if to audition for their turn at jack-o-lanterns. There are towering stalks of corn for sale and huge bins of multicolored gourds and butternut squash. These are not the precious vegetables of summer but the solid, resilient produce of fall that will store well into winter.

Inside, there is much to give Zan joy in the Halloween season. There is the apple cider pressed on sight, jams and preserves, and a wall of juicy fresh picked apples. For the sweet tooth, there are jars of carmel, honey, and maple syrup. We find lantern candles, pumpkin carvers, and scoops that double as cookie cutters. The kids giggle over the mini straw bales with their mini pumpkins, and I laugh over the cornucopia baskets whimsically shaped as turkeys. The children tell me of their first encounter with real live turkeys, the ones who reside at Yellow Springs Botanicals next door. We briefly break out into a dance mimicking, as Native Americans once did, the turkeys’ distinctive halting, quaking strut.

Back at our classroom in Mills Lawn, we spend the afternoon recounting the morning’s events and capturing them on paper. The children make thank you cards for the Peifers depicting the barn, the pumpkins, Buckeye the dog, and bins of apples. I help a few of the children make turkeys by tracing out their hands and painting the fingers multiple colors. Each picture has a story to tell. Each child recounts the memory of a beautiful fall day spent exploring.

My daughter and I returned in the afternoon to pick blackberries and raspberries in the back fields of the orchard. I admit I am not quite ready to let go of the warm weather. My daughter is not so sentimental and instead tells everyone we meet how the blackberries are for the Halloween cake that she is baking for her friends.

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