It’s a long story (which I’ve tried to write twice but it got too long even for a long story ) Suffice to say, pictures are not always what they seem. Or are they?
I was so excited for the pumpkin patch this year, I had just been looking at pumpkin patch photos from years past and they have filled my aging soul with joy and gladness and I couldn’t wait to get another glorious visit in the books (blog?) Everything seemed to be in our favour on the day we went, spectacular Autumn weather, balmy but not hot,intensely blue skies, cooperative children clad in co-ordinating colours, but then… low blood sugar x2 (me and Ella, an apocalyptic combination)hit…and none of the promised doughnuts were left to remedy that situation (egads) and camera complications (heavens, no! not the camera!) had me leaving feeling very disgruntled and sad and deeply mournful that I would not be able to enjoy the beautiful photos I was taking, (camera issues not withstanding) because I would only remember what a stressful experience it had been. Here’s the happy couple now:
Commiserating over the lack of doughnuts..
Well isn’t this fun?
I hate the pumpkin patch…I hate everything…
Every year we have taken the cutest pictures of Ella happily sitting on this little wagon. This year ended all that…so Finny stood in her stead
My kids seemed perplexed by my attitude. They assured me that they’d actually had a great time. They listed all the wonders of the pumpkin patch. “ What are you talking about? We had an awesome time! We got that huge white pumpkin! We played with all the animals, remember when we were chasing Ella and jumping over all the pumpkins?” they reminded me, but I was convinced they were just trying to put a spin so that I wouldn’t be in a bad mood and make them do chores.
It turned out that post-mommy-meltdown, we all had a very bonding conversation (about something entirely unrelated) on the way home, which totally would not have happened if everything had gone according to plan, and I actually treasure the memory of that car-ride.
Still, in my welter of selfish desire to have legitimate warm and fuzzy memories when gazing upon the beautiful pumpkin patch photos in my twilight years, and in my corny (and probably selfish) desire to see Ella as delighted at the pumpkin patch as she was at the apple orchard, I extricated a promise from my amazingly indulgent family that they join me in a redo. When I got home though and ate something, and had a brief moment of lucidity within the hormonal haze that makes up my consciousness at any given time, (and basically stopped being a two year old brat, albeit momentarily), I looked at the photos I’d taken, specifically the following series of the kids’ teamwork to bring in the great white pumpkin they found..and smiled a sentimental smile as warmth filled my shriveled heart. Ah yes, what a wonderful, wonderful time we’d had.
Seriously, I’m not even kidding, looking at them instantly made me completely reinvent the experience for myself in my head. For a brief moment, looking at those photos, I was 95% sure that I’d had the time of my life. (When in actuality I only dimly remember taking these shots with my zoom lens, not even registering what I was seeing at the time, as Ella whined at my feet).
Ok, so yes, there’s no debating that I’m crazier than most, but I think I’m not entirely alone in this tendency toward unrealistic expectations/nostalgia/comparisons.
And I think this also speaks to the danger (and sheer silliness) of comparing our very real (messy, hormonal, low blood sugared) lives to the “lives” represented by photos in other people’s blogs, instagram feeds or on facebook. They don’t tell the full story, they capture one tiny moment in one tiny-often staged-frame . They crop off the less than ideal, they dim the sound of a whining 2 year old, they erase any hint of low blood sugar irritability and airbrush any maudlin feelings into non-existence. They do this so effectively that they can easily make even the person who took the photos, who was actually feeling all these negative feelings at the very moment that they were clicking that perfect photo completely forget how they were really feeling at that moment. All that remains is a glowing soft focus memory
The traditional picture, miraculous really, given what we were dealing with. I’m always shocked by the continuing tolerance for this. Every year I resign myself to this being the last one. If this was the last one, it was a good one.
In fairness there are oft-times that photos really do reflect the moment accurately, I like to think they do so far more often than not (or else what is the purpose of taking them, right?) And it turned out that these pictures captured even without me feeling it at the time, what a wonderful time my kids were having and I’m so happy about that. Once again, behold the blessings of taking pictures! But they do not capture what a miserable time I was having (for the most part.) They don’t tell the whole story. Even if they are accurate, they never, ever tell the full story. Not even the most transparent and honest blog, photo, facebook, twitter or instagram feed can do that, for better or for worse.
On the flipside, when we went back to the patch the second time (armed with our OWN darn donuts and cider this time) it was chilly and late. The kids weren’t picturesquely dressed, and the photos aren’t really as picture perfect as the first ones, but Ella and I were well fed and enjoyed every moment of our time there, and the older kids seemed to have a great time too. So mission accomplished. Now all the pictures blend together and our 2013 edition of pumpkin patch memories are warm ones. And yes, I’m acutely aware that it’s ridiculous that this was so important to me, but whatevs. I own it. I think maybe it’s the sense that our time as an intact family is numbered. There are less than a handful of Autumn’s left with all my little pumpkins at home and I guess it’s affecting me more than I realized.
And now in defense of photography. The very reason why should never compare your life to someone else’s life in photos is also the most awesome thing about photos. They preserve the memories, they capture the beautiful times and they filter out the imperfections. They remind us when things are rough or tedious of what is really important. They remind us that we really love each other. We are reminded that our children are beautiful, and sweet and funny and endearing. That our teenagers, with their complicated teenage lives still have time for their parents, and their little siblings, and a dorky pumpkin farm. They remind us that our “tweens” (why does that word grate on me so?) are really still adorable little kids.
Yes of course there are irritating, contentious moments and really low blood sugar moments and disappointing moments, but when it comes down to it, there is more love than not. More comedy than tragedy, more peace than drama, more contentment than contention. There is a lot of fun. There’s a lot of good. When you strip it down to pictures, you are reminded that life is beautiful. And so with that said, please enjoy my Epic 2013 Pumpkin Patch Scrapbook. Or if you don’t have an hour to spare, don’t because seriously, I put this post together over a period of days so I lost track of the number of photos I was dumping here, and I’d say we’re at roughly 3,000 (until I see more I want to add.) Feel no obligation to wade through them. This is for me in my old age (and for the days when I hate everything and think that my life sucks).
Ella was pretty smitten with the idea of pulling the wagon. (The happy shot was on the sad day and the solemn shot was on her happy day. See my point? )
This picture makes me laugh for a few reasons. I love her intense little expression and do you see Finny ducking behind her? He saw me taking the photo and tried to blend into the pumpkins because he knew I was trying to get a shot of just her. So accommodating.
I love this shadowy fellow. My handsome, smart, funny, and remarkably wise first-born. So far, (and I am always mindful of jinxing things, ) he has made the dreaded teens very easy for me. Not every day is perfect but he’s a good kid and I genuinely like him.
Little Mr. Sunshine. He’s just such a sweet, happy kid and I adore him.
I can hear Gabe’s laugh when I see this picture. He has the most infectious giggle.
Me and my sweet girls.
Hunting and gathering…
The light! The light! I swoon! And the gorgeous blonde ‘aint bad either.
Jumping off the hay bales, celebrating another limb-break free year. Yeah! Thank you Gabe and Finny for your “action shot” facial expressions. Really adds drama I think.
These are dark iphone snaps but I love them a lot. This is why I want a deserted island to raise my family. Watching them play together is my favourite thing. Ever.
This is where we got our sweet Thumper five years ago. She died a couple of months ago and we were all pretty devastated. Especially sweet Gracie. She was our first pet and she lived in our kitchen. It still feels empty in there without her. Gracie got to cuddle some of her ancestors.
(Brotherly love…don’t believe a word that sign says. There were no donuts or cookies to be had that fateful day my friends.. I am proud to say that I averted disaster for another unsuspecting family when I overheard the parents on the verge of suggesting doughnuts to their 2 preschoolers…at first they looked a bit troubled by my unsolicited interruption of their private conversation with.."NOoOOOOOOOoooooo don’t do it! Don’t do it” but when they cottoned on they were deeply appreciative. I live to serve. )
I have to admit though, that in the middle of hating everything I do remember laughing at this goofy kid, who was doing his best to cheer me up in the middle of Ella’s meltdown. He even made up a Mr. Rogeresque ditty about looking on the bright side of things. He’s a hilariously wonderful kid. (The last creepy face is one he pulls to freak me out, he pops around the corner at random times doing it. )
Swag. I didn’t choose the thug life. The thug life chose me.
I challenged him to hurdle that hay-bale. Ambitious little fellow. Maybe a tad unrealistic.
Ella, post-granola-bar consumption. All better. Pity I wasn’t wise enough to follow suit. D’oh
The boys assist Ella in the selection process and chase her around (and around)
Those pumpkins are bigger than she is.
Clearly my children enjoy jumping over things..it’s a pity I did not name one of them Jack.
Note to self: always bring own doughnuts…
Ella rolling up her sleeves, apparently in order to get down to some sort of pumpkin picking business
A contemplative Finny contemplates….something I love about Finny, before he starts talking to you he always says, “Ummmm.. ” in a very thoughtful manner. I don’t know why I love that, I just do. I tend to love things about Finny.
Taking a technology moment…lest they go into withdrawal. PS: I love Benj’s signature squatting bushman pose. He even sits at the kitchen table-on a chair- and eats his cereal like this.
I think this picture of the big siblings taking care of their little siblings so tenderly is one of my fav pics of all time.
Those are some lucky little sibs.
Gracie made a special request for a photo of her and Finny. How much do I love these kids? I have mentioned that their relationship reminds me of me and my younger brother Seth. Except Gracie’s probably a much nicer version of me. It’s so delightful to watch.
Oh my poor heart, I can’t bear it…..I cain’t I CAAAAIIIIIIIIN’T!
This hazy golden light just makes me so happy.
Ok in this photo doesn’t Gracie remind you of some beleaguered celebrity captured by the paparazzi as she shops at Whole Foods with her child. I suppose there is the paparazzi element going on here.
My perfectly picturesque pumpkin (the warts are my favourite part), in the end I could not bear to throw it to my perfect-stalk-disregarding boys.
Benj executes the famous through the legs pumpkin pass. And it’s a beauty!
My beautiful girlies
This old girl, dubbed “Beefy” by my boys was the source of much entertainment. I was not aware that cows liked apples this much.
They were also most fascinated by the fact that the sheep felt soft. Whodathunkit.
Seriously sun, could you be any prettier?
I love this picture too much, slightly blurry and all…it just sums up all my happy mothering moments.
By the way, all of the sunset shots were right out of the camera, I think I sharpened one or two of them so you could see the corn better, but the colours are true. This time of year and this setting makes for the most spectacular sunsets. I just can’t get enough of them. Erhem. Clearly.
Until next year, (mostly) happy place.
Got a few more hours to kill? Scenes from Pumpkin Patches Past 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011,2012