THAT EVERYWHERE ORB: Round things can dominate different times of the year, from ornaments in December to tennis balls around Wimbledon to beach balls in August. But October fully belongs to a particularly roundish, though sometimes oblong-y, orange fruit filled with seeds and guts and lore and flavor. It's the pumpkin, a seasonal delight so dominate that it takes over our coffee drinks, our candles, and our family outings during the 10th month of the year. But the pumpkin isn't simply a product that cinnamons-up various hand creams; it's a bright wonder of nature, which makes a day out among pumpkins, both snapping photos and purchasing, probably one of the most nature-oriented activities we participate in, come the fall, and maybe all year long. A trip to the lake, combined with all of that pumpkin-oriented nature goodness, might push the pumpkin patch experience a little further into the wild -- or, at least, into the realm of fresh-air-fun-family-outing-ness. Shoreline Lake in Mountain View hosts a yearly Pumpkin Splash, and while no gourds don a suit and go swimming -- that we've heard -- it does make a pretty backdrop to all of those cute-baby-by-a-pumpkin pics. And is there a "Pumpkin and Pedalboat" ticket? Oh yeah. You're pedalboating, post-pumpkining.
OCT. 18-31: And the Pumpkin Splash's window is slightly smaller than most patches, so it's one of those things to make a date with, rather than hope you catch along the way. "(K)id-friendly activities, an old-fashioned bake sale" and other to-dos dot the nearly two-week, shore-close run. Even if you can't make it to Mountain View to get your gourd on, though, have you patched-it-up yet? True, you generally want to aim closer to Halloween, so your pumpkin stays fresh for carving, but in our all-pumpkin-product world, it seems a folly not to visit the source, at least once during the autumn. And a lake-y background just adds to the calendar-pretty quality of the day out.