Friday, October 15, 2010

Apple "Picking" in New England

Ah, fall in New England.  If you are going to live amongst the Pilgrims, there are certain requirements to be met.  In the winter you have to play hockey or ski;  in the summer, you are committed to eat a lobster roll (or at least carry around a doctor's certificate proving that doing so will cause great bodily harm) and in the fall you must go apple picking.  Notice that I didn't mention any spring requirements, because in New England, there is no spring. 

Our family is not exactly the outdoor type but we are firm believers in following all rules (and arriving punctually to all required activities) so we have adapted the apple picking process to accomodate us city slickers.  It is a well-known fact that farms are full of nature and that there is such a thing as TOO MUCH nature and therefore it is wise to find a farm that understands this fact.  This year we travelled about a half-hour away to a farm amusement park that caters to people like us.  Walking to the orchard from the parking lot?  Ha!  Who wants to encounter bugs or wild life?  Who wants to walk through tall, tick-filled grass?  Not us!  And apparently not a lot of people because this farm had a train to transport you to the orchard.  And a children's area with a bouncy house, maze and clean, mini animals to admire. 

Although it is barely fall for most Americans, in New England October is late fall and mid-October is practically winter, so most of the apples were already picked from this massive orchard.  Our train brought us to the last two rows of trees left baring fruit and deposited us at the top row with specific instructions on how to get back to the train once we had finished.  Mind you it was a row, so it should have been pretty obvious but judging from the looks of the other passengers on the train, even this small glimpse of nature was adventurous to most. 

"Picking" is not the correct word for the activity.  Most of the apples are on the ground and those still on the trees were clinging on for dear life.  The children learned quickly that if you placed your hand a centimeter or two under the apple it would leap off the tree and into the safety of your soft palm.  So many of their apple peers were lying rotten on the orchard floor and the remaining apples were not as stupid as they looked.  And these were Jonagold apples which our train "guide" had informed us were perfect for all apple recipes.  In other words, these were apples intent on fulfilling their apple destiny.   

My ten-year-old picked two apples and called it a day.  It is not cool to pick apples when it's a perfectly good day to play hockey.

My 7 year-old perfectionist chose wisely, weighing the characteristics of each apple before making a selection, walking up and down the aisle to compare apple sizes and color traits.

My five year-old came prepared.  She chose a denim mini-skirt (farmers wear denim), an apple t-shirt (see the apple theme?) and a straw hat (because, duh, it's a farm!).  She successfully spotted the most jumping apples.  Maybe the apples chose her based on her farmer-like ensemble.  Whatever the reason, in five seconds, her bag was filled.   

Gordy and I watched.  And not because it was a perfectly good day to play hockey.  No.  We watched because on the train ride we learned two interesting facts.  The first was that because we had such an amazingly dry, warm summer, the apples grew extremely large.  Most were over a pound each!  The second interesting fact was that at this farm amusement park, you pay $2.50 per pound for the joy of fruit picking.  Which means each apple cost $2.50.  And they aren't even organic.  Apparently, train rides are expensive and even surly teenage tour guides need to be paid, so it was an expensive day at the farm.  Nevermind that the farm was getting our labor for free and that we paid heavily to get on the train in the first place.

It's a small price to pay to say that we fulfilled our fall requirement and are now in good standing in our community before winter arrives.


Elizabeth said...

Apples grow on trees?!

I thought they were born encased in fine pastry.....

fay said...

What does the Elliot way mean?

elisabethellington said...

Ah, "Persuasion." Very fine. And those are the largest apples I've ever seen in my life.

I second Elizabeth's comment, but must add goat cheese and caramel to that fine pastry.

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