This month's find:

The Perfect Pumpkin

October 20, 2007|By Joe Burris | Joe Burris,sun reporter

The unseasonably hot October sun that beamed down on Larriland Farms made it feel like midsummer, and some produce pickers who had come to peruse the farm's pumpkins moved about briskly.

Brynne Mellady, a 23-month-old girl from Woodstock, didn't seem to mind the heat, however. Her parents had brought her to the Woodbine farm for her second Halloween pumpkin -- the first to be chosen by her.

She moved slowly between rows of pumpkins and then spotted one to her liking, a bright-orange sphere almost the size of a volleyball. Her father helped her pick it up from the bin, and then she cradled it like a doll.

It appeared that the search was over. Brynne's father, Matthew, watched as she held onto the pumpkin, seemingly with no intention of letting go.

"You want to get that one, sweetie?" he asked.

"No."

Thus continued the Mellady family's search for the perfect pumpkin.

Matthew, an attorney for the federal government, walked alongside Brynne with a camcorder while her mother, Boi, director of development at Johns Hopkins Hospital's department of surgery, followed with a camera.

Together, they enjoyed an afternoon that was more involved than Brynne's first encounter with a Halloween pumpkin.

That was last year, when Boi purchased a small baby boo pumpkin from a grocery store.

This year, the Melladys were primed to begin a family Halloween tradition of inviting the neighbors and their children -- many of whom are Brynne's age -- for an evening of carving jack-o'-lanterns and roasting pumpkin seeds.

Matthew and Boi have vivid, if contrasting, memories of their childhood experiences with All Hallows Eve.

For Matthew, carving Halloween pumpkins was a big event during his growing-up years in Indiana.

"I'm one of five siblings," he said, "and it was always a big deal to go out and find the right pumpkin and have a family pumpkin-carving evening."

Boi had a much different recollection. She lived in England until her family moved to Indiana when she was 10. At the time, she and her family knew nothing about the United States' Halloween tradition.

That is, until they arrived in the U.S. on Halloween night.

Just as the family were settling in their home, they were visited by a group of youngsters dressed in weird outfits who all yelled in a rapid-fire sound, "Trickortreat!"

"My parents didn't understand the concept of knocking on doors and didn't understand what they said, so they closed the door," said Boi, laughing.

"But they kept banging on our doors, and other kids came and did the same thing," she added. "Finally, one of our neighbors told us what it was all about. And the next year, I really got into it; I was out there getting candy like everyone else."

Though they're both from Indiana, the couple met at Tulane Law School in New Orleans. They have been married 11 years. In addition to having demanding careers and caring for a toddler, they're working on an etiquette book for children.

Many of their interests revolve around Brynne, who likes the idea of carving out the insides of a pumpkin.

The girl became so involved in selecting her pumpkin that she and her parents didn't take part in the other activities at the expansive Howard County farm, which features a popular hayride through the woods.

"We're going to let her explore," said Boi, following her daughter, "and find one she likes."

But what they discovered is that Brynne enjoys carrying pumpkins as much as the idea of carving them. After schlepping larger ones, she ventured over to the smaller variety -- the same kind she got last year.

Brynne sorted through the bunch of baby boos then came across one to her liking.

"This one, Daddy," she exclaimed.

Matthew said her choice looked similar to other baby boo pumpkins already in the Mellady home -- except that they have funny faces drawn on them in marker.

"She wants to draw a little face on the one she chose," said Matthew. He and Boi also purchased two large pumpkins for carving from the Larriland Farms pumpkin patch -- including one that Brynne relished just as much as the smaller pumpkin.

"To her, every pumpkin is a favorite pumpkin," said Boi.

For now, the pumpkins are set on the Melladays' front porch as part of an autumn display.

For Brynne, it appeared that part of finding the perfect pumpkin was getting to make her own decision. She's grown accustomed to that; though she'll celebrate only her second birthday next month, she's picked most of her toys and both of the family dogs.

"She has chosen many things for herself," said Boi. "She's very independent."

joseph.burris@baltsun.com

Places to find that perfect pumpkin

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

Dick and Jane's Farm,

4361 Solomons Island Road, Harwood. 410-867-3264.

Doepkens Farm,

2657 Davidsonville Road, Davidsonville. 410-721-2739.

Greenstreet Gardens,

391 W. Bay Front Road, Lothian. 410-867-9500.

Homestead Gardens,

743 W. Central Ave., Davidsonville. 301-261-4550 or 410-798-5000.

Knightongale Farm,

3924 Solomons Island Road, Harwood. 443-871-1073.

Papa John's Farm,

8065 New Cut Road, Severn. 410-969-8810.

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