The Frost is on the Pumpkin Patch


Pronzini Pumpkin Patch sign

Halloween is the time of year when many of us let our imagination run wild, pay tribute to the dead, indulge our silly side, or even get ghoulish. For this week’s Listen Up, we’re sharing the steampunk-meets-Jules-Verne fantasy of Smashing Pumpkins with the official video of “Tonight, Tonight.”  Written by lead vocalist and guitarist Billy Corgan, the song was one of three gold singles from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, the group’s 1995 award-winning concept album about the cycle of life and death.

zippertravel header photo: pirate and parrot skeletons at McClelland’s Dairy pumpkin patch

Halloween graveyard McClelland's Dairy pumpkin patch

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What is the perfect pumpkin? Do you choose by color – classic deep orange, designer white, or an alternative mottled grey-green? Will it be carved into a jack o’ lantern, tumble onto your dining table or stand sentry on your doorstep until it turns to mush waiting for winter to arrive? Whatever your color choice, one thing is certain: the sure sign of a pumpkin’s character is defined by its stem. (I’m such a pumpkin fan that I titled my first play The Frost is on the Pumpkin.)

Fall has arrived in Napa and Sonoma, just in time for Halloween – the sky is clear blue and there’s an early morning chill in the air that promises to give way to temperatures in the low 70’s by midday. The grape leaves in the vineyards are turning gold and red and amber and wine country is home to some pretty amazing pumpkin patches. We visited four of the best for this post. They’re big, they’re bold, and they each combine the search for the great pumpkin with the best of an old fashioned county fair. Hay bale slides, seed boxes (instead of sandboxes), and corn mazes are joined by bouncy houses, pony rides and lazy farm animals that love to have their bellies and noses rubbed. Lemonade, barbecue, cotton candy and kettle corn will stave off thirst and hunger as you make a day of it in Petaluma and Napa.

Pronzini’s Pumpkin Patch, Petaluma Pumpkin Patch and McClelland’s Dairy are all located in the Petaluma countryside. At McClelland’s you’ll find the added attraction of the pumpkin blaster, a bazooka that enables you to fire miniature pumpkins at targets across an open field. Pronzini’s has the largest selection of bouncy houses and the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch is home to the Amazing Corn Maze, a four-acre maze that takes the average person 45 minutes to complete. And there’s only one way out!

The Stanly Lane Pumpkin Patch at the Shed in Napa (near the intersection of Routes 29 and 121) is beautifully planted and a photographer’s dream. After you load your pumpkins, gourds, and decorative corn into your car, stick around awhile and enjoy a meal at Shed’s Smokehouse.

It’s time to get out and about in Napa and Sonoma, and it’s not too late to find that elusive perfect pumpkin.

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