Exaggeration? Maybe, but hardly. I love the apple orchard. There is something about being surrounded by trees and a farmhouse, rolling hills and a country store, that makes me feel at peace.
And for me, the Apple Orchard is not a fall affair, but one that lasts through the year. You see, my favorite orchard is open all year round. It begins in the spring once the ground has hardened up enough so the mud won't cake our shoes. I bring the kids and they play on the old fashioned playground complete with merry-go-round and teeter totter. I play for a bit then sit and read a book in the grass under the shade of the perfect climbing tree. I sit and take it all in and enjoy this piece of earth that has not yet fully succumbed to the modern.
When I tire of reading and my children have made their way to the sandbox, I walk over to the sturdy swing set and begin to pump. My kids see the fun that I am having and join me for a swing. My daughter wants a push, but my son is content to slowly sway, never flying too high. After giving my daughter a few pushes, I get back on my own swing and pump my legs and forget for a few minutes that I'm a grown-up.
My daughter sees if she can keep up with my height and eventually exclaims, "Look how high Mommy's going!". The kids slow their pace and race back to the sandbox or perhaps the merry-go-round. I swing on.
The wind blows across my face and I lean back and close my eyes. I suspend disbelief for a moment and I'm flying. Opening my eyes I see blue sky, dotted by clouds, stretched out before me, framed below by trees. I take in the view.
Eventually I stop swinging and check out what the kids are doing. We head in to the country store for some honey sticks and maybe a cookie. Springtime at the orchard is wonderful.
The visits continue through summer until fall arrives.
Fall at the orchard is delicious.
In the last weeks of August, I feel the season creep up on me. Suddenly the early apples appear in the store. The lodi and quinte come first. This year I missed the earliest varieties and my first apples were Paula Reds. From these apples I made plain dried apples and cinnamon dried apples in my food dehydrator. My kids love these! I also made apple cranberry crisp and swedish apple pie. My refrigerator is still chuck full of apples so apple bread, apple pie and maybe another crisp are in order along with some more dried apples.
In addition to our regular visits to the orchard throughout the year, we make one visit as a family. My husband is at work during the day, so he is not able to come with us during our many other trips. This family trip takes place in September. We arrive and the parking lot is bursting. We navigate the bumpy road as we try to find a spot. Once parked, we trek over to the entrance and wait in line to purchase our pick-your-own bag. Having done that we head out into the orchard, stopping at the trees we like, sampling a few along the way. We head to places where we can't see the row markers, pick an apple, bite into it and try to guess what we're eating. MacIntosh? Cortland? Red Delicous? It's a fun game.
Once our bag is full, we begin the game of apple balance. Filling the bag to the brim has its drawbacks. After putting the apples in the car, we head to the country store to poke around. The kids love to watch the apple washer and I love to search for discount apples for apple sauce or pies.
Next, we head out to the snack bar. On a busy day, we wait in line for 15 minutes. It's so worth it. The scent of kettle corn and apple dumplings fills the air and my mouth waters at the anticipation of the fall's first dumpling. Once the treats are done, my husband and I sit at a picnic table and watch the kids enjoy the playground.
When we tell them it's time to leave, the kids are never ready. With promises to return again soon, we coax them to the car. They reluctantly oblige because as much as they love it at the orchard, they know Mommy loves it maybe a little more.
|Last year's family trip to the orchard|
A link to my favorite orchard: Brookfield Orchards