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The Observer, Oct. 29

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NOT MADE BY ALIENS: The Pumpkin Hollow Maze.
  • NOT MADE BY ALIENS: The Pumpkin Hollow Maze.

Piggott is a far piece from Little Rock — in fact The Observer has never been there that we can remember. Driven through maybe. But now we are dying to go, thanks to the video on the Pumpkin Hollow website. These folks — identified as Darrell and Ellen Dalton on the site — are into Halloween in a big way, and they're not talking about cider and Cinderella costumes. Nope, what they've got up there in Piggott is “Horror in the Hollows,” a tour of the Mad Skull Mine Shaft said to be the place where people were transformed to zombies by a mysterious gas; “Bubba's Butcher Barn,” where a demented family is holed up in the basement (“It's alive with FANGZ, CLAWZ AND CHAINSAWZ”), and the “Forest of Fright,” where someone dressed in a bloody apron and wielding one of those sawz is loose. Pumpkin Hollow has got it going on, and its filmmaker makes a darn good B video for you to watch (www.horrorinthehollow.com).

We got on to Pumpkin Hollow because it's one of three places in Arkansas (there are undoubtedly more) that are advertising corn mazes. The Observer has a thing about corn mazes. One day we're going to make a corn maze, in the shape of a catfish. But for now, we're looking at other folks' corn mazes. Like Peebles Farm in Augusta (“Voted Woodruff County Farm Family of the Year!”). Nothing scary here; the Peebles are into preservation. Their corn maze is in the shape of the county courthouse. Well, maybe it scares folks behind on their taxes or something.

Then there's Schaefers' Corn Maze near Mayflower, an elaborate scheme that incorporates the UCA Bear mascot and the words “Go Bears!” (A design has touted the Razorbacks in years past.) The maze looks so complicated the Schaefers must have had some help from aliens to build it. They advise to bring water and forget finding a shortcut out.

And Pumpkin Hollow? Its corn maze? It definitely doesn't look like aliens made it. It looks like The Observer made it. A happy scrawl of a maze declares “Family by Day! Fright by Night!” That's more like it.

Junior was out of school last Friday, so The Observer decided to bring him to work. He likes hanging around the offices of the Times, watching other people work. It's just how he rolls.

When lunchtime ticked around, we decided to walk down to the local burrito joint. The torrential rains of the previous night had cleared out to points east, leaving behind a wool overcoat sky and a chill, blustery wind, which rattled in the trees.

As we were walking across the parking lot, The Observer spied a perfect autumn leaf on the pavement: a lovely burst of red fading to yellow, with just a touch of green. Sensing the opportunity to instruct our progeny on the vitality and beauty that can be found in the world if only one slows down and looks for it, The Observer stopped, hands in pockets and looked down at it. Then we proceeded to give a windy mini-oration on the beauty of the leaf, with Junior, hopping from foot to foot, bundled in his hoodie jacket, desirous of cheese dip and central heat. Finally, possibly because he wanted his fadder to shut up and move on, Junior reached down and picked up the leaf. He looked it over, then said: “It's fake.”

“Balderdash!” The Observer exclaimed, “You simply believe it to be fake because your youthful eyes have never beheld an object so intrinsically perfect!”

To prove his point, Junior put the leaf into the old man's hand. Sure enough, it was of the silk and plastic variety, apparently dropped by a passing interior decorator. We stared at it. Junior stared at The Observer. “Can we go now?” he said.

God, The Observer thinks, has a highly-refined sense of humor.  

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