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j: My picture doesn’t do her justice, but roaming around Sausalito yesterday I saw this beautiful sailboat and fell in love with her long sleek lines, her wood decks, the sweet curve of her hull. I don’t have a lot of fond memories of time spent with my father, but he did sometimes take me sailing out on San Francisco Bay, in his boat named The Blue Max. She was not nearly as pretty as this, but remembering her touches the same place in me, a place where I am content to let imagination and my sense of adventure blur the edges of reality. My dad was the captain and I was his first mate and out there on the bay we found a language. It wasn’t made of words, it was made of water and wind and rudder and sail.

It’s the only language we’ve ever shared, and it can’t be spoken on land.

a sincere pumpkin patch

jb: Summer is absolutely my favorite season. But Halloween is my favorite holiday. I’d request that Halloween be moved to summer, but I hear it’s good to spread your favorite things out during the year.

One of the best things about Halloween is going to the pumpkin patch, which my family did every year of my life from birth through college. (Seriously.) These were real pumpkin patches, sincere pumpkin patches (as Linus would say) with huge fields full of pumpkins to choose from and not a bounce house in sight. My little sister and I would walk through the whole pumpkin patch in search of THE best pumpkin with dad’s (now famous words) echoing in our ears “You can pick any pumpkin you want, as long as you can carry it back to the car.” Of course, my sister and I knew that THE best pumpkin would be the biggest one furthest from the car, so we ran to the farthest end of the field first. And there it would be – THE BEST PUMPKIN EVER! And we’d pick it up and carefully carry it about 25 steps towards the car until we realized our perfect pumpkin weighed 25,000 pounds and then we found THE NEXT BEST PUMPKIN EVER! (Which was usually smaller and lighter, too, because we were quick learners, even if we had to learn the same lesson every year.) And so the cycle of finding, carrying, finding another, carrying, would repeat until we made it back to the car with THE BEST PUMPKIN EVER (this time for real!).

This year we found a rare, sincere pumpkin patch (no bounce houses! Fields full of pumpkins!) and went with my own family, my nieces and my parents. We had a blast making goofy pictures with pumpkins, taking crazy wagon rides, debating a pumpkin’s features and flaws, and even attempted a real corn maze. But the best part of all? Telling my 6.5 year-old son, “You can pick any pumpkin you want, as long as you can carry it back to the car.” Just like Dad taught me.