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November 22, 2014
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The hunt for red October

New generation Toy Story joins old school Alice & friends (next photo) at the Iron Kettle as I search for the elusive great pumpkin.


October 20, 2011

It took a while, but I have finally figured it out. It’s not my popularity that draws so many visitors to the front door, but rather the Upper Delaware valley, and the allure of country life, that keeps my phone ringing year ‘round with visitors, looking to soak up some local color.

Last week, I had friends in from California, in search of fall foliage. As I toured them around the Catskills, they were mesmerized by the many hues the trees take on at this time of year, but never stopped looking for “just the right shade of red” as we stopped along the way, snapping pictures and sipping cider, admiring the rainbow of maples and oaks in sharp contrast to the many evergreens that serve to highlight the autumnal landscape.

While my pals were scanning the horizon for blood-red leaves, I was on my own quest: in search of the perfect pumpkin. Starting with Pumpkinfest last week in Barryville, NY, I was initially frustrated that there were so few to choose from. Advised that the heavy summer rains and occasional hurricane had caused the crops to suffer greatly this year, I was reminded that that my childhood Finger Lakes locale was (IMHO) never lacking in all things October, so packed a bag, threw the dog in the truck and headed off for wine country.

Fall was always my favorite time of year, and the memories of apple picking, corn husk dolls and pumpkin farms still can elicit a strong sense memory, so I was sure that a trip upstate would not disappoint. Wending my way through Owego and headed for Ithaca, I wondered if it was possible that the “Great Pumpkin” still thrived at the Iron Kettle Farm (www.ironkettle farm.com) in Candor, NY. Fighting the urge, I eschewed my customary internet search, determined to see if I could still find the place, after all these years.

I did not check a map and don’t have a GPS, instead deciding to test my failing memory and see if the brain would take me home, via country roads. The colors (including red) were peaking

throughout Broome County and I had to pull off the road a few times to soak it all in (and take snapshots, regardless of the rain) as I steered toward Tioga and Thompkins counties, respectively. My heart fluttered a bit as I flew past the old ice cream parlor—still going strong, giving me hope that Charlie Brown and company would appear out of the mist, just around the bend.