Sanderson’s family pumpkin patch sat just outside of town on Route 9 between the old, boarded up Dairy Queen and the new, fancy Walmart. People in Kettleburg didn’t shop at Walmart and people from Landryville didn’t shop in Kettleburg. It’s been that way ever since Pa Kettle and Ma Landry divorced after he spent all their savings at the racetrack. The one thing everyone could agree on though, was that shopping at Sanderson’s was the best place to get your annual pumpkins.
Kids loved wandering up and down through the vines looking for the one that had their name on it. The lady folk loved Mrs. Sanderson’s selection of pie pumpkins. In fact, old lady Cooper won the blue ribbon at the state fair three years running using Mrs. Sanderson’s pumpkins. No leaf was left unturned and by the second weekend in October, there was hardly anything left.
The first day of October finally arrived, so Floyd and Sue left work early and picked up Billy and Mary Beth from school, so they could all head out of town to pick their pumpkins for the season.
“I hope I’m not too late for the pie pumpkins,” Sue said, watching the cars drive past their old, beat up Ford truck.
“They’ve only been open for four hours,” Floyd said.
“Pumpkins! Pumpkins!” the kids shouted from the bed of the truck.
Everyone was happy and excited as they drove nearer to the Dairy Queen.
“Hey Queen!” shouted Billy as they drove past. “Where’s the Burger King?”
“Be quiet,” Mary Beth scolded in her best mom voice.
“You be quiet, Baby!”
“Both of you be quiet!” Floyd shouted.
Floyd pulled into the farm’s dirt drive and slowed down. Him and Sue looked at each other, then out into the field. Billy and Mary Beth stopped their silent argument and stared with their mouths open.
“This is the first, isn’t it?” Floyd asked.
“Yes,” Sue said in disbelief.
Floyd pulled up to the old farmhouse and everyone remarked on how quiet it was. Usually there were hundreds of chickens running around and sounds of cows and horses bouncing around the farm. It was silent. So silent Billy was sure he could hear his own heartbeat.
“What do you think’s happened?” Sue asked, looking out across an overgrown and unplowed field.
“I don’t know. Stay here. I’m going to check the house.”
Floyd stepped out of the truck fully expecting someone to jump out of the shadows and shout surprise and something about being the first customer of the year, but nothing happened. As he stepped onto the porch he could see that parts of the field had been cleared. Small round patches. Maybe they planted less this year, he thought as he reached his arm out to knock on the door. Instead of hard wood, his knuckles rapped on a piece of paper that had been nailed and taped to the door.
“Too boring here with Ma and Pa gone. Sorry. Went home. You’ll have to get your pumpkins from Walmart now,” he read aloud.
“Went home? This is their home. What is going on?”
He peaked into the windows and everything was gone. Even the wallpaper had been taken down. He walked to the end of the porch and stood on his toes to look into the field. He was curious about the patches that looked like they had been planted.
“Something weird’s going on here,” he told Sue.
The kids jumped out of the bed of the truck and started running toward the clear patches of the field. When they crossed the overgrowth, they found all the plants flat on the ground in a giant circle. There were three circles the same size where the pumpkin patch used to be.
News spread, and people came from miles around to look at the circles. People came in helicopters to take pictures from the air. Now Sanderson’s Pumpkin Farm is better known as Sanderson’s Crop Circle Emporium and every year people from Landryville and Kettleburg gather on the first of October to host a going away party for their long-lost friends and pumpkin growers. Many, including old lady Cooper secretly wish that it would turn into a welcome home party, but it never does.