L.A.’s Best Pumpkin Patch

Leaning down over my date, tempting her with a box of pumpkin-spice cookies from Trader Joe’s, which as you may know are the potato chips of cookies – you plop them on your tongue over and over, seeking satisfaction that never quite comes. I was doing exactly that when I drooled a tiny bit on Suzanne’s pretty forehead.

Who says romance is dead?                                             

Anyway, I blame the pumpkin spice, a noted pagan liqueur, because this kind of behavior is unlike me. I also blame Suzanne for looking like the sum total of all the bubbles in my Champagne, all the sunsets that stopped me dead in my tracks.

Essentially, I blame everything but myself, which is common in these troubled times. Blame others for your shortcomings, your dry pasta, your bad bets, your idiot misdeeds, your shameful drooling.

“I had fun last night,” I assure her.

“What was last night?” she asks.

Last night was “Carved,” a Halloween pumpkin extravaganza at Descanso Gardens. It should not be ignored. Tix are plentiful, though they must be purchased in advance. There is free and easy parking (a must for me anymore).

Once inside, you’ll find these ginormous pumpkins the size of your brother-in-law’s butt. Artists have sculpted them in extraordinary detail – takes about six hours per pump. After three days, the intricate designs start to wither and gnarl, so the pumpkin artists start all over again.

It’s pretty much a metaphor for what goes on in my refrigerator.

Honestly, Jack O’Lanterns and I have much in common. I mean, we’re both Irish. And we’ve both been gutted.

Anyway, Suzanne and I stopped off for a quick drink first, which really enhanced the “Carved” experience. There’s something about a roadhouse in autumn, the muddy boots by the fire, the big screens aglow with marching bands and insurance commercials.

Then I had a $12 Modelo while we were at “Carved.” Walking distance from home, we were listening to the universe as it bellowed at us, bossed us around and around. Tickled us in the toes.

The stars of the evening were these giant hand-carved pumpkins known as Big Macs. Yet, I think the ambience, the shimmer, is what makes Descanso Gardens special right now. It’s a sauna of shadows and wisps of fog. That rustle in the trees: Ghosts? Squirrels? A bobcat?

Descanso’s more-famous holiday show is good, don’t get me wrong – love it, in fact. But we kind of preferred the steamy aura of this Halloween extravaganza.

Honestly, you should go.

But what do I know? I mock all the things everybody loves — Beyonce and craft beer, Starbucks coffee and TV show reboots.

I can’t tell a butler from a valet, a goose from a moose. My tastes and interpretations rarely align with mainstream ideals. I didn’t even like “Ted Lasso” all that much – a little, not a lot.

Except that, like you, I adore Halloween, our most playful, pungent, ridiculous holiday. Gimme a grilled brat and a jelly jar Bloody Mary. Gimme a big bowl of chili, extra hot, and stand back.

As noted, Halloween is my morphine. Makes me feel 9ish again.

FYI, I’ve always wanted to write a spooky Halloween story in honor of my dad, who was born on Oct. 31.

Here’s my latest idea: At a Halloween séance, someone summons the spirit of Marilyn Monroe, and she returns to take revenge on the kind of creeps who ruined her.

Like me, we discover that the movie legend experienced longing and lust, but never true love, which is the sort of Mary Shelley subtext everyone wants in an excellent horror story.

Plus lots of kissing … bloodshed … sexy vampires … stressy damsels … fishbowls full of blinking eyeballs.

Like pumpkin spice, Halloween stories are a stupid guilty pleasure. Remember when Agatha Christie drowned that young apple-bobber at the Halloween party? 

But that’s Halloween — mischievous and scary, full of pathos. We wink at it, whistle through the graveyard, accompany the kids down the street with flashlights, wallowing in the autumn chill, the laughs, the pillowcases fat with candy.

In the dark, someone trips, ganks a knee, and there’s suddenly actual blood.

By the way, that’s how I want to go – a’la Agatha Christie, with my head in a bucket of bobbing apples, surrounded by close childhood friends laughing.

“Wait, he’s not coming up!!!” someone will scream.

“JUST KIDDING!” I’ll say as I whip my head out of the water.



Tickets to “Carved” at Descanso Gardens are $30-$45 depending on the night you go and whether you are a member or not; $20-$30 for kids ages 2-12. Weekends are booking up, but plenty of tickets remain during the week. It runs through Oct. 29.

Meanwhile, we’re trying to clear out some merchandise. Below is a list of what’s left in the warehouse. Everything but the gin glasses has been discounted 25%. It’s a cool way to support this free site.

And please don’t forget about “What the Bears Know,” the memoir of Bear Whisperer Steve Searles.

To order the book, please click here.

To look at t-shirts and such, please click here.



Remaining Gin Glass Sets – 18

Caps – 45

Men’s “Boomer U” T-shirts


S – 1

2XL – 2

Women’s “Boomer U” T-shirts

S – 2

M – 4

L – 3

XL – 2

2XL – 1

“Boomer U” Long Sleeve T-shirts

S – 1

L – 2

Men’s Gray T-shirt

S – 4

M – 5

2XL – 6

Women’s Light Blue T-shirts

S – 2

M – 3

L – 2

XL – 2

2XL – 3

3XL – 2

Men’s Green T-shirts (Happy Hour Hiking)

S – 1

Women’s Berry T-shirts (Happy Hour Hiking)

S – 2

M – 2

2XL – 3

6 thoughts on “L.A.’s Best Pumpkin Patch

  1. Thank you for this delightful pumpkin-spiced meander through many wonderful Halloween memories. It was the late, great writer Ray Bradbury’s favorite holiday and I am sure he would have approved. Carving a Jack O’Lantern with my dad every Halloween is one of my fondest childhood memories. Thanks!

  2. The fact that Halloween makes you feel “9ish” is inspirational. The best I ever feel is 18-ish, and I know that is completely delusional. But I love it. Being half of that seems twice as good. Nine on, Chris!

  3. Christie Trivia: more victims died from poisoning than by any other manner in Christie stories. I know this because a writer who lives across the street from me wrote a Murder She Wrote Episode and loves all things Christie. We have a pretty decent street for Halloween. Many munchkins. No sidewalks. No street lights. If I win the lotto, I’m going to hire performers to dress as Dracula, the Mummy, Elvira, etc. and dance to Monster Mash on my front lawn. I’ll throw in Marilyn for Mr. Erskine. And Elvis for his date. And Clark Gable for me. “It was a graveyard smash.”

  4. What could be more natural than that we would equate the cycle that marks our time (the seasons) with our own temporal evolution ( Spring: birth; Summer: maturation; Fall: fulfillment; Winter: death) ? Halloween is a celebration of belief that the human spirit exists and endures beyond mortality, and that we can dimly see beyond our own. It is in the realm of fantasy and the vicarious experience of the unknown. Perhaps it is our collective imagination coming to terms with the human condition. In this way is the bizarre and feared made sane through representative imagery and ritual. Like other seminal beliefs, if it didn’t exist would we, as conscious beings, have had to invent it? If grinning pumpkins are the gargoyles of its age, pumpkin pie must be the heaven of its spirit.

    Sooo…Me? I vote for autumnal spice; like the girl, for instance. Now there’s something and someone to believe in and celebrate in all seasons.

  5. Pillow Talk

    Your warmth is like a wraith of coals
    Glowing in the dark—a firmament
    Of cosmic heat my body blows on
    By simply being near its bright cloud
    Of radiation, coming to bed
    A solar excursion my cool flesh
    Yearns for when the darkness eats away
    At the day’s banked largess of heat
    And the moon rises like a goddess
    Of cold dreams and distant light
    To preside over the night’s kingdom
    Of secrets, shadows, black unknowns:

    It is Fall, Summer’s sweat misting on shoals
    Of memory’s uncertain flow—descent
    Into myth that heat makes when the sun
    Begins to pour into a golden shroud
    Of mood and manner— love having fled
    The lists of blazing flesh for the lush
    Harvests of autumn’s cosy disarray
    Of largess, its milling scents and sweet
    Apple rainbows of orange undress;
    Who would not be seduced by sight
    In such a carnival, with more to come?—
    The promise that’s easily blown
    Into the night sky by an autumn breeze
    Like bits of ice—like Winter stars are;
    The first frost coming like warming fleece
    Dusting in like sugar, a scimitar
    In sheep’s clothing honing the covers
    With its blade of sharpened autumn spice;

    Yet coming into you, one discovers
    Where heat has fled: a dark paradise
    Whose Summer is alive, with storm
    Rain and lightning in its warm
    Maelstrom, time its only weather—
    Ah! Summer in autumn, in bed together…

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