When woodsmoke is in the air thoughts turn to the country -- to pumpkins and hayrides and places like Larriland Farm near Lisbon, Maryland, where Laurence Moore and his family run a pick-your-own-fruits-and-vegetables farm.
This time of year, people come to buy from the farm's stand or to pick apples and pumpkins; in December, they come to cut their own Christmas trees.
"I'll tell you, it's gotten to the point where we are selling recreation," says Moore. "People like to come here. They're not coming to get apples; they can buy them already picked."
Moore works an 80-hour week and is on call every day. "Our big days are Saturdays and Sundays -- when other people have days off," he says.
For their recreation, Moore and his wife, Polly, go out for dinner Saturday night, and both say that's about all they have time for.
But on weekday afternoons, Moore fits in a few games of croquet.
In front of the red-brick farmhouse, which overlooks a peach orchard and the valley, croquet wickets dot the law. "All you have to do is step out the front door," Moore says.
Croquet is a family tradition started by Moore's father, who was also a farmer named Laurence. During the Depression, croquet was cheap entertainment. The family didn't buy a set: A friend made the mallets in a factory where he worked, and young Laurence fashioned wickets from Japanese-beetle traps.
More than 50 years later, the Moores still play croquet, every Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon at 4, when their friend Ellison Grimsley comes up from Annandale. They met him nine years ago at an annual tournament on the Mall. Moore's 27-year-old daughter, Lynn Arms, has won this amateur tournament four times and Moore has won it twice; Grimsley's won only once, though Moore says he's the best.
"He used to be snakebit -- that means bad things happen to you. You shoot the ball and it hops right over the opponent's ball."
What does croquet do for him? "Tires me out," says Moore. "We play four or five hours. You walk around a lot, do a lot of standing. There's a certain amount of tension to it, it's a competitive game. You just go out there to win. Like a quarterback having a good day or bad day.
"Then after four or five games, it all starts to run together. That may be after a few cocktails, but that's part of relaxing. We're having fun."
Occasionally, Moore will give himself a break on Saturday afternoon to go dove hunting."You scout them in the morning, find out where they're flying -- generally around where there's been corn cut for silos. "You're always on good terms with your neighbors. You call them and say, 'Hi, there are doves flying over your place. Mind if we come in?'"
In the fall, the farm stand opens at 9, but Moore wakes at 6 to start chores. Things like mowing the parking lots before customers arrive take top priority; otherwise he has to mow around the cars.
Unlike the farmers one hears about whose kids aren't interested in being farmers, the Moores run their farm with their grown children: Lynn has a degree in fruit cultivation and lives across the road with her husband and, according to her dad, could pretty near run the farm; Guy, 24, has a degree in agronomy; and Fenby, 22, has a business degree.
Lunch is the nicest time of day, when the family gathers in the country kitchen. Polly Moore fixes homemade sausage and cornmeal pancakes on a griddle she can reach from the table -- cooking, serving and eating in almost one motion. Two dogs curl around the chairlegs and hope for a morsel. The pancakes are served with applesauce -- a combination of Golden Delicious and Magnolia Gold apples with very little water -- that's the key -- spun smooth.
When the Moores go out for dinner, they often go to the Quail Ridge Inn on Route 27 in Mount Airy. About the only time they come into Washington is to attend the croquet tournament. While many people spend several hours a weekend at shopping malls, the Moores do very little clothes shopping. They buy from catalogues, and in the parlor can be seen stuffed muslin forms for making clothes. Says Moore, "You go to a store and the salesman tries to get you into designer jeans, and you find out when you get home you can't sit down in them."
Autumn evenings, Moore and his offspring take turns driving hayrides for Scout groups and birthday parties around Larriland -- which is pronounced Larry-land, Larry being short for Laurence.
"We got one group that was pretty lively," says Moore. "It was a church organization, and they had the best time. There was one gal -- a real live wire, she was jumping in laps.
"They were throwing straw around, and when we got back there wasn't one piece of straw left on the wagon.
"There was one couple, I don't know how they got into that group, but they didn't fit in. And she had just been to the beauty parlor." Moore shakes his head and laughs.
In the fall, Moore takes a trip to New England to hunt grouse. "I live from one year to the next for that. It's so nice to go with your dog and your gun. It's so quiet. There's always that excitement when the grouse gets up."
Even a farmer needs to get away once in a while. But for city people, Larriland Farm means 280 peaceful acres -- ponds surrounded by weeping willows, geese honking beyond the raspberry field and cows mesmerized in the barnyard by a goat peeking out of the barn.
The other day Dan Corcoran, lately retired from the federal government, had come picking apples with his wife. They parked their Cadillac among the trees. They drive from Northwest Washington at least 15 times a year to pick everything from spinach to blackberries. They were paying for their bags of apples at the stand, where the phone is always ringing and the support posts are tacked with recipes for Polly's Blackberry Mush and Capt. Kohler's Own Raspberry Vinegar.
Corcoran pointed to the formless khaki sunhat that Lynn Arms wears, blond braid hanging down her back.
"You come through the drive and see that hat," he says. "It's a beacon. You know you'll be taken care of."