by Lisa

Aside from the costumes and the chocolate, we have a one rock solid Halloween tradition. Every year, we pick popcorn at Ardenwood Farm, and then the kids package it in treat bags, with a few candy corn & directions for drying and popping.

It’s a lot of corn to pick and carry, and I’m sure there are some classmates (or parents) who are sick getting of that one single ear of corn every year and would just prefer a good Snickers…but,well, this is just what we do. The Harvest Festival means fall for us, and picking piles of corn to eat and share, and in spite of the usual crowds and, this year, the heat, the kids won’t budge.  The Harvest Festival is fun: making corn husk dolls and sampling vintage recipes, and quilting, and checking out the animals, and picking out enormous pumpkins. There’s a working blacksmith and water pump and an hour, at least, of treking deep into the corn field to harvest dozens of ears of corn.   We pick popcorn, and Indian corn for display, and it’s kind of like hitting the jackpot when you find a tall stalk that’s been untouched. The ears twist off with a satisfying tug, and the you strip the dry husks, and are left with a golden ear of corn, with rows and rows of hard, jewel-like kernals.

We come home with a stash that lasts for months. The corn dries until November, and then it can be popped in a paper bag in the microwave. Everytime we pop some–for snack, or family movie night, or to eat with milk like Laura Ingalls-Wilder–we have some dim memory of the harvest and picking that popcorn together on some hot day back in October.  And just like that, one very small thing becomes one more anchor for our family life.

Mostly we eat our popcorn plain, or with a  spray of olive oil and salt.  But once in a while we make caramel corn. So, just in case you didn’t get enough sugar this year, here is Caroline’s caramel corn and here is our family’s favorite caramel corn recipe.

And that is what we did this weekend, in between all the parties and the last minute decorating: Ella & Finn & a friend who joined her for the harvest stuffed about 80 ears of corn into bags, assembly line style.  Then they hauled the corn to school, had a parade, came home and waited until it was cool enough and dark enough to trick or treat, ran the neighborhood, and Finn ate so much chocolate that he spontaneously broke into a Russian cossack dance and we had to send him outside to run laps.  It was a good day.

Ninja contemplates the moon before bed