One of the finest things about New Jersey is the proximity of rural life. Whether you are sitting on a stoop in Newark's Ironbound or leaning on a light pole in Paterson, the fields and orchards of the Garden State are only an hour or so away. At the end of the harvest season, these farms throw wide their gates and invite New Jersey's urban and suburban masses to come spend a day with nature... sort of. It's Haunted Hay Ride Season!
On Saturday, David, Ariel, Eric, and I set out for pumpkin picking, apple cider donuts, and hot chocolate. Heaven's Hill Farm offered a corn maze, hay crawl, hay rides, a giant slide, and all sorts of delicious fall snacks. A lot of your time at a haunted hay ride event is spent standing around waiting in line, so I got a good opportunity to do some people watching.
A group of high school girls kept themselves busy singing accapella versions of every song on Top 40 radio. "I NEED A MIRACLE! PLEASE LET ME BE YOUR GIRL!" Another group of younger kids tortured a chicken sitting on a wire.
Young boys: "Shake the fence! See if it will fly." "It's so ugly... I'm going to eat you and all your friends! Stupid chicken..."
Teen girls: "GET YOUR SEXY ON!"
Middle-school aged local kids tried to sell glow sticks by modeling them. By nights end, more glow sticks were worn by the sales associates than were sold.
The farm offered daytime hay rides out to a pumpkin field, so we all climbed on the last wagon. With us were two other families. One family had about 3,000 small blonde children. A girl wearing only a tshirt ran around the hay wagon with the family's digital camera taking pictures of herself and her brother. The other family was a group from Paterson. We knew this because the dad got on the wagon and yelled, "Yo! It's Paterson on a hay wagon!" before pulling out his digital camera to get pictures.
The pumpkin "patch", as it turned out, was not pumpkins on vines waiting to be picked. It was a muddy corner of the corn field where pumpkins had been dumped off the back of trucks and left strewn about. Families ran around the muck searching for the perfect pumpkin. David patiently carried a pumpkin while Ariel compared it to others. Dads pulled carts filled with pumpkins and toddlers. Paterson piled pumpkins high on their cart until the siblings and cousins could not tell whose was whose.
Paterson Kid 1: Check out this green one. It won't fit on the cart- Oops!
Green pumpkin: SMASH!
Paterson Kid 2: Haha! Let's smash some more!
Pumpkins: SMASH! PLOP!
Paterson Dad: Hey! That's enough.
Paterson Kid 2: When we get home, I'm gonna smash mine.
On the hay ride back from the field, the girl in a tshirt resumed running around the wagon taking pictures. Every time she left her seat, her unattended pumpkin fell off its hay bale and rolled down the aisle before her dad could catch it. Her family laughed. The family from Paterson posed with their heap of pumpkins.
Paterson Dad: "Look at this picture! It's the ghetto at the farm! Can you believe this? Look at that kids! That's real cornstalks! That's how corn grows! Man this air smells good."
David watched them. "Isn't that cool? It's like everything is so exciting to them because they are from the city."
Then, a few minutes later and without a trace of irony, "Look at those... those things! Those fuzzy things on the tops of those plants!"
KPd.: "The seeds?"
David: "I guess! They are so fuzzy!"
Ariel:"Omigod. Look at that light."
We all turned our attention towards the setting sun. The light caught the seeds/fuzzy things and made them glow.
Eric: "Did anyone bring their camera?"
"Man. I can't believe I didn't bring it!"
So we all sat in the bumping hay ride, humbled, and watched the sun sink. The family from Paterson watched. And the blonde family watched. The young girl looked at the sunset through her camera's digital screen, and then gave up and put the camera down. And as we approached the main farm area, I heard a familiar sound...
"PROMISCUOUS GIRLS! WHEREVER YOU ARE! I'M ALL ALONE! AND IT'S YOU THAT I WANT!"