Happy Place, Stolen Days And A 99 Word Flash Fiction

Last week, Hubby surprised us with the news that he had heard about a pumpkin farm mere miles from where we live.

“What? Really?” Aspie D and I asked incredulously.

“Yes, really!”

So guess what we did at the weekend?

With the sun shining its afternoon warmth through what had started off as a crisp, misty Sunday morning, we drove along country roads until we found this sign ~

(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Not a sign beckoning us to The Pumpkin Farm in Paso Robles, California, but to a farm in a tiny village in Dorset in the West Country of England.

And there they were, pumpkins galore ~

Pumpkin Patch October 2015 (12)A small gathering of giggling children crunched their way through the pumpkin patch, but I think we were the biggest kids there.  Hubby had never been to a pumpkin patch before and I smiled as I watched him and Aspie D hunt for ‘the one’.

But there weren’t only pumpkins at the farm:

And of course we had to pose:

 But look what else – reindeer!

The reindeer – who live on the farm – are young, still with ‘baby’ fur on their antlers.  During the build up to Christmas they accompany Santa, bedecked in sleigh bells and reindeer Christmas finery.

Because you see, not only are pumpkins grown at this farm, but so are Christmas trees.  For every one cut down, five more are planted.  Nordman Fir and Spruce.  I think I  know where we’ll be as soon as we can, tagging our tree. Just like old times.

New adventures beckon: I thought my days of visiting pumpkin farms belonged to the past. But in this Happy Place, memories of my life with my children in California collided with an afternoon of joy and laughter with Hubby and my grown daughter, as the autumn sunshine smiled down on a village in West Country England.

*********

Some adventures bring repercussions: while Charli was away enjoying her homecoming with her husband’s family at ‘Wolf Ranch’ in Nevada, somebody came by her own ranch in Idaho and raided her apple tree, stealing every single one.   She laments the loss of all she had planned to make and bake with her apples,  but takes her experience to give us this week’s flash fiction prompt:

‘In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a thief or a theft. Consider motives and repercussions. Is the act a matter of perception? Is it a daring maneuver or a desperate bid for survival? Think about different instances of stealing.’

Stealing is no laughing matter: I wish I could magic back all of Charli’s apples, but I can’t.  So I wrote a flash continuing on with the adventures of Ethel and Fred, The Clueless Werewolf, instead:

Werewolf’s Clothing

Fred peeped out from behind the hedge as soon as the upstairs light went out.

Starkers and desperate, he ran for it, grabbing the first thing he felt hanging on the washing line.

A dog barked and the bedroom light snapped back on.

“Oy…’oose there?” Old Mr Cooper called out.

“Look, there it goes!” screamed Old Mrs Cooper.

“Bleedin’ peepin’ Tom, I’ll ‘ave ‘im!”

A shot rang out.

Rumours abounded of a creepy man wearing Old Mrs Cooper’s white nightie terrorising the neighbourhood.

Ethel cackled, relieved that the next full moon was still a full month away.

About Sherri Matthews

Sherri has been writing full time since 2011. Currently working on her memoir, 'Stranger in a White Dress', she has been published in a variety of national magazines, websites and three anthologies. Sherri raised her three, now adult children, in California for twenty years and today, lives in England’s West Country with her hubby, Aspie youngest, two cats, a grumpy bunny and a family of Chinese Button Quails. She keeps out of mischief blogging, gardening, walking by the sea and snapping endless photographs. Her garden robin muse vists regularly.
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81 Responses to Happy Place, Stolen Days And A 99 Word Flash Fiction

  1. Denise says:

    What a lovely day out! All they need to do is put the chickens to work at Easter time and they have year round income worked out.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Haha 😀 Yes, although they sell their wonderful eggs and home-grown honey too (bee hives somewhere I’m guessing) in the little farm shop. So happy to have found this place, in all these years, who knew? We didn’t!

      Like

  2. Sherri, love the pictures. Made me laugh out loud. So glad they have a punkin’ patch there you could enjoy. 😀

    Like

  3. OH, how cool. 🙂 Sounds like a wonderful day. Makes me smile. This place is so incredibly amazing for planting 5 trees for each 1 cut down. EVERY place should do that. Alas, they don’t, so this is officially the best tree place ever. Also, reindeer. Love the photos.

    Like

  4. D.G.Kaye says:

    Great photos Sherri! You look pretty as a pumpkin. 🙂 And a good lol, on the flash fiction. xo

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…well I thank you very much Debby, just had to pose you know 🙂 Although not too keen on being a witch, ha! Glad you had a good LOL too…makes my heart smile knowing that 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Luanne says:

    Sherri, your pumpkin patch is so lovely! I don’t even know where one is here in Phoenix! OK, I give up. What do reindeer have to do with growing Christmas trees? hahahaha

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    • Sherri says:

      Oh Luanne, we couldn’t believe we found this, and practically on our doorstep! I wonder how long it’s been there, all these years and we had no idea…..! LOL! Yes, I see what you mean. I meant to load three pics of the reindeer, then put my paras in the wrong order…geeze, so glad you said that! Makes more sense now I hope …reindeer..Christmas trees 😀

      Like

  6. Heyjude says:

    Pumpkin patches don’t excite me, but I can see why they would you 😀 No for me the reason to visit is the reindeer – is there more than one? What a marvellous beast. I hope he is being well-trained for the sleigh pulling. I once saw a real reindeer and sleigh when I was about 5 years old. Honest! I’m not pulling your leg 🙂
    Cool FF – I can picture Fred in his nightgown – Wee Willy Winkie and all that…

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Oh Jude, we had such a surprise when, in our kid-like excitement, daughter suddenly cried out, “Look over there, reindeer!” We couldn’t believe it. I put more pics up…had some issues last night, meant to put up three, one showed so I’ve fixed it now for you 🙂 We asked about them and were told that they are indeed trained up for sleigh rides during the Christmas season. What an amazing sight for a 5 year old, no wonder you’ve never forgotten it, and I do believe every word Jude 🙂 Haha…yes, a bit of Wee Willy Winkie going on there come to think of it… 😉 😀 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful day out with the family. I love the photos, Sherri. You’re such a cute pumpkin! Excellent FF challenge, my friend! Chat with you soon! <3<3

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    • Sherri says:

      Haha…thanks Jill, had to do it 🙂 It really was such a wonderful day out, I’m still smiling at the thought of it, and the weather was perfect too. Glad you enjoyed the FF too 🙂 Chat soon indeed 🙂 ❤ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a good man your hubby is! And that farm sounds like a place to keep in mind all year round – I wonder what they do for Easter…….. Enjoyed the continuing story too xo

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    • Sherri says:

      He is a good man Pauline, and we had such a lot of fun 🙂 I loved sharing this experience with him, something that was such a huge part of my earlier life with the kids in CA, and now, right here in Somerset, England! All I need is for the boys to join us! Yes, I will have to find out about Easter. They sell the wonderful free range eggs in the shop, and some veggies and home-grown honey too. Also several apple trees grow there, brimming with red-crisp apples. The kind of place where I could live very happily 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying Fred…I sort of threw this one out, hope I can keep it going and original…let’s see. Thanks Pauline! 🙂

      Like

  9. Pumpkins up your way? I learn something everyday. Lovely farm with lots of goodies for everyone. Gorgeous pictures, Sherri. Shows you have a rocking good time and a grand weather day for it.
    An entertaining story with a seamless twist. Love it! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Like

  10. Imelda says:

    What happiness a pumpkin patch gives. 🙂 We had a blast in one, too, just this weekend. 🙂

    Like

  11. Norah says:

    Hilarious! I love the picture of Fred escaping with old Mrs Cooper’s white nightie. What a picture! I’m sure Ethel had a chuckle. Though I think she was previously not humoured by his naked antics!
    I love that you found a pumpkin farm. I look forward to seeing what you all do with “the” pumpkin for Halloween. The chickens are gorgeous, as are the reindeer. I can’t believe it’s time to start thinking about Christmas! Isn’t it wonderful that they plant five trees for every one removed. Great practice.
    There were some young deer at the farm I visited recently. I wonder if they’ll dress them up for Christmas. Hmmm. The family is heading back there for Granddaughter’s birthday next month but the other grandparents are going this time. We must share. 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…that’s right Norah, I love that you remember that about Ethel, thank you for that! Last time she was more than a little furious with poor Fred – nuts anyone? 😀 But she’s cooled off a bit now and is beginning to enjoy how Fred’s antics stir up the neighbours a little bit methinks…on small doses that is 😉
      Oh yes, I didn’t show a pic of the pumpkin, but it is a big one and yes, will be sure to post a pic when my daughter carves it as she does every year. She is the artist in the family and I always look forward to her latest creation 🙂
      I know, I can hardly believe I mentioned Christmas already. Oh your farm visit sounds so lovely. Yes good to share, I’ve got that to come, I hope 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        Yes. I remember nuts anyone now. Had forgotten the clever phrasing. 🙂
        Please do share the pumpkin. I look forward to seeing Daughter’s creation. 🙂

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Haha…onions too, so I believe 😉 I will Norah, and thank you! I told Daughter that and she smiled and said she would think of something different, so watch this space 😀

        Like

  12. Charli Mills says:

    A pumpkin patch! And some still as green as half of mine! I did get 5 pie pumpkins harvested and have six left to turn more orange. Oh, what fun to have found such a place where you can share the American experience on your own home soil. Great photos! Love the look on Hubby’s face! And your flash — you are having fun with these two! A nightie! Poor Fred, no dignity in being a werewolf caught starkers! 😀

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Yes, I couldn’t believe it Charli, such a thrill!! I was so excited to share this and thrilled for your pumpkins too, that’s a wonderful crop and still there thank goodness… 😮 Haha…I know, Hubby was getting into the spirit of things as you can see! I am having fun with Fred and Ethel, I admit, although I had a bit of a struggle getting this to fit the 99 words as I went off on different tangent at first. In the end it was the white nightie that spoke the loudest. Funny that, white dresses and all…. 😉 I know…no dignity whatsoever. The thing is, Fred has no idea how he got starkers in the first place. Think it’s about time Ethel explained a few things to him 😀 😉 😀 Thanks for another great writing prompt Charli!

      Like

  13. Pingback: Thieves! « Carrot Ranch Communications

  14. Marlene says:

    There’s something about a pumpkin farm and choosing the one that’s ‘just right’ … It looks like you had a lovely outing.

    And that Fred, always up to something!

    Like

  15. Such fun pictures, Sherri. Reminds me of going to a pumpkin farm with our little granddaughter last year. I even got to do my first ever hayride. 🙂 Your flash fiction made me laugh. Poor old Fred!

    Like

  16. restlessjo says:

    What an adorable pumpkin you make, Sherri 🙂 I can’t get over the turn around in things over here. The pumpkin fairs are big business in the States aren’t they? Maybe they’ll start happening here too. Just so long as they keep the reindeers! Aren’t they beautiful! 🙂 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Haha…thanks Jo… I think!! 😀 Yes, so true, and I had no idea pumpkin farms existed over here!. But seeing the reindeer too was such a lovely, unexpected surprise. I can’t wait to go back to get our Christmas tree and hopefully get some pics of them in all their Christmas finery 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Loved the pictures of the pumpkin-plus-more-farm and the story!

    Like

  18. Ste J says:

    The whole set up of your story is like a 70’s comedy lol, I love it! Reindeers, CHristmas is coming all too quickly again, so here’s me claiming I will beat the shopping rush and put my feet up in direct opposition to that statement.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Lol! ‘Carry On Screaming’ come to mind? Haha…so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, reindeers too. Not expected at all. But now you can put your feet up…but let’s not get caught up in Black Friday…I expect it will be worse than ever before. Seeing those reindeer and talking about Christmas trees…well, I couldn’t help myself. But first we have a pumpkin to carve…

      Like

      • Ste J says:

        Carry On Screaming was the one, we used to have that on the TV every wet break at school, I could recite great swathes of dialogue at one point. Now i work nights Black Friday won’t affect me in a customer way, just a stock way so there is that as a blessing. Soon, that time will be upon us but before then a nap is due and I’m down with that!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sherri says:

          Oh those glorious wet breaks at school…now I feel really nostalgic. So you can escape the madness of Black Friday. Great. Me too, as I won’t be anywhere near the shops that day. Happy napping 🙂

          Like

  19. jennypellett says:

    Those reindeer are so cute! I remember seeing them in the Cairngorms. Your flash is really funny – good job!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Bet that was a beautiful sight. They are gorgeous aren’t they? Haha…thanks Jenny, so glad the flash made you laugh. I’m being a bit silly here but I feel silly lately… 🙂 Oh…and I love your new profile pic, you look great! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Tom Merriman says:

    Love it, Sherri! The farm looks special, love the reindeer… and Werewolf’s Clothing was fun to read.

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      It was such a fun place to visit Tom! I thought of you when I wrote this, and I am woefully behind in visiting you, but counting on your Halloween posts if last year is anything to go by! Had to bring Fred back…so glad you enjoyed the flash, thanks Tom!! 🙂

      Like

  21. Scary Halloween comedy flash fiction at it’s best, Sherri. I love it! Poor old Fred. I just hope that white nightie of Mrs Cooper is not too tight on him. A werewolf in a nightie sounds like a creature nobody should approach.

    What a great find you had as well. Christmas Trees and Pumpkins all in one place? My, I’d have been in heaven walking around that place. So good to hear that they plant five fir trees for every one that is cut down. A never-ending Christmas awaits with plenty of top branches for up coming Christmas fairies and angels to sit.

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    • Sherri says:

      Thank you so much Hugh! Haha..you make me laugh out loud!! Yes, poor Fred. He’s cold and hungy and all he could find was that white nightie. Mrs Cooper is not exactly small, so there’s plenty of room for movement. And he’s going to need to move fast if he’s to avoid those gun shots! Time Ethel relented and let him back home methinks…let’s see…
      Oh Hugh, I wish you could have been there at the pumpkin farm, think of the fun we would have had, you would love it there and I love your thinking..a ‘never-ending Christmas’…wonderful :-).

      Like

  22. I’m still laughing at the rumors of the creepy man in Mrs. Cooper’s nightie, Sherri. You include the most wonderful details in your writing!
    Pumpkin farms are a trademark of October fun in both Colorado and Kansas. When my grandkids were little, we’d let them each choose a pumpkin. Gannon was only three when we added one restriction: he had to choose one he could carry. The little guy was always choosing the enormous pumpkins that required two or three adults to carry. His sister always rescued a little one with a defect of some kind. But she would name it and get attached to it, and hide it under her bed or in a closet or drawer so it would be safe.

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    • Sherri says:

      Haha… 😀 It’s fun to go down the flash fiction road after writing memoir, so glad you enjoyed it, you encourage me so much Marylin! Oh I love your pumpkin stories, brought back instant memories of my boys doing just the same, trying to carry the biggest, heaviest ones they could! That is just so sweet of your granddaughter ‘rescuing’ a defected one and hiding it beneath her bed! And giving it a name too! Thank you for sharing this deligthful story with me Marylin, just so precious 🙂 ❤

      Like

  23. What a wonderful place to wander. I have never been to a pumpkin farm. The mind boggles but your photos show it beautifully. I’ve grown pumpkins perhaps 1 at the most 2 vines. It must be triffid like as they grow. Thanks for the wander. Just loved it. 🙂

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      It really was Irene, one of those really lovely autumn afternoons with the sun not too hot but warm enough and just a lovely atmosphere of family fun and such wonderful memories brought back too. That’s great that you grew your own pumpkins, and yes, haha, they are like triffids when they really take off as a tangled mass of vines. Did you eat yours? I grew them once (in the States) and ended up with three huge ones which we put outside our front door as an ‘fall’ decoration rather than carved out. I also grew corgettes (or do you call them zucchini there as in the States?) but no luck that year as the gophers ate the roots from underneath, not unlike Charli’s gophers who stole her onions! So glad you enjoyed it, thanks so much for wandering with me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes we ate them. I go through a pumpkin or more a week as I eat it for breakfast. When I was growing them we gave a lot of them away and sold the odd one at the Farmer’s market on the community stall. We do call zucchini zucchini. This is the first place I haven’t had a large veggie garden and I miss having my own produce. Pride gives it added flavour.
        I loved wandering with you Sherri. Have a good week.😄

        Like

      • Sherri says:

        Really? Goodness, you must really like pumpkin then! I had to get used to the taste, having never had it until I moved to the States, and then only as pumpkin pie. Interesting to know you call zucchini zucchini 😉 It is wonderful having a veggie patch, I don’t have one here either, but people are big on growing then in small veggie bags and pots and such, so it is still possible to have a variety even if with a small garden. I do have my herb garden though with various herbs such as rosemary, sage, lemon thyme and chives. Nothing like homegrown is there? We need to wander more often! You have a good week too Irene 🙂 ❤

        Like

  24. badfish says:

    Great post!!! what a lovely bunch of pumpkins…and all those reindeer!

    Like

  25. Ali Isaac says:

    Sounds like you had a lovely and nostalgic day! I LOVE the idea of selecting your own tree for christmas, sounds so romantic, although the cutting of christmas trees for two weeks of glamour feels so wrong to me. I still do it every year for my family, though. Very entertaining flash, too!

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      It was a really lovely day, and I’m glad you enjoyed the flash too, thanks Ali! We used to cut down our trees at a tree farm when we lived in the States and haven’t done it for years, so I’m so looking forward to the experience again. I’m glad I can reconcile it with knowing that the trees are replaced and then recycled afterwards, but I battle just like you with the concept of cutting them down like that. Strange dilema this one isn’t it…?

      Liked by 1 person

  26. rogershipp says:

    Loved the flash… Left me chuckling!

    Like

  27. Oh the lovely California fields covered with chubby pumpkins! Love this automnal post, Sherri. Yoru photos are as always lovely, too.

    Like

  28. prior2001 says:

    Hello mon ami = as you know I am still catching up on so much – but had to say I am glad I dropped by for this nice flowing post – first – the pumpkins are so natural looking – and how fun…. sound like a nice farm and the reindeer getting ready for xmas here was a nice smile. Ethel and Fred left with me another smile…

    Like

    • Sherri says:

      Well hello mon amie, what a lovely surprise! I missed you so much here in blogland and always relish reading your lovely comments 🙂 So glad you enjoyed it, and of course the ongoing adventures of Ethel and Fred! See you soon! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  29. One word Sherri…..Brilliant, loved that 99 word challenge, you are so very gifted with these. The farm looked amazing my kids would have enjoyed the reindeers for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Marie Keates says:

    I’ve never been to a pumpkin patch either but it all sounds wonderful. Fancy someone stealing all the apples from a tree. What a horrible thing to do. I hope karma catches up with them and the apples all have worms,

    Like

  31. No sooner had I just written please keep more of Ethel and Fred coming when low and behold another installment! My cup is full! 🙂 As for the Pumpkin Patch just delightful. As I said I wish I had been with you. Such a great place and enjoyed the photos and imagining all the fun you 3 had exploring such a special place. Here comes Christmas! lots of love xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherri says:

      Oh I wish you had been there with us too dear Diane! Think of all the fun photos we would have taken 😉 Glad to keep you topped up with Fred & Ethel too! Love reading your messages, and sending lots of love right back to you too…for now, Christmas and always 🙂 ❤ xoxo

      Like

  32. Pingback: The Light Of Christmas | A View From My Summerhouse

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