Apple Harvest

Apple Harvest

Yesterday was a perfect fall day.  Bright blue sky, just a little nip in the air.  The beginning of sweater weather–so rare in our area in September.  I cast aside the chores I had planned to do that day and informed everyone that I intended to go apple-picking.  It is a ritual that soothes me, reminds me of new beginnings and tells me the nesting season of fall is upon us.

Max, his best friend Jake, my friend  and I climbed into my car and drove 40 minutes out of town to Homestead Farm.  There are other pick-your-own places that are closer but I am so fond of Homestead.  I found them just over two years ago, the spring Juan moved out.  It was a place I could take both my frazzled mind and my wild boy and let them both just go…It was the proverbial port in the storm raging out on the sea of our life. 

Max picking apples

Max picking apples

Max would scamper off far ahead in the fields. No matter how far he ran he was always within spotting distance.  I could amble slowly behind soaking in the sunshine and the energy of growing green things. The smell of the soil and the feel of the wind like bandaids on my aching heart.  When we were done we would plop ourselves on the ground with an icecream or wander among the barn animals, petting them and feeding them food the farmers provided.  We could spend an entire afternoon there.

We went to Homestead almost every week that year.  We picked more strawberries than I thought humanly possible but we ate or baked or gave them all away.   As berry season moved into apple season we traded in our berry boxes for bushel barrels and learned to recognize different types of apples.   

We have returned now every year, usually just once or twice a season.  Everytime I go, however, I am instantly transported back to a feeling of peace, of being centered in the center of chaos, of knowing that hope is abundant and just ready to be harvested.

Jake and Max with real big apples

Jake and Max with real big apples

 And so yesterday we landed there on the most perfect of apple days.  Armed with baskets and a wheelbarrow we wandered into the orchard far away, where most of the people had not yet dared to go.  Many of the apples were still young, just a few had been kissed by the sun long enough to ripen.    Even though we were picky, careful to only take fruit that was ready we still filled three baskets in almost no time.  Max and Jake would scamper up to find the best ones, still light enough to climb without damaging the trees.  We wandered among the trees calling out to each other:  “Look at this beautiful one!  Have you ever seen a more precious apple?”

When we were done, my friend bought them each an icecream while I paid for our 65+ pounds of apples, as well as some other produce from their farm stand.  Then we wandered down to pet the animals and let the boys run free.  I breathed in the country air which smells to me like hope.

On the way home we talked about what we would do with so many apples.  We talked about recipes for wheat-free apple crisp and pork with apples and apple salad and oatmeal with apples.  But then we decided we would fill up bags with apples and give them away to neighbors and people we loved.  Jake decided we should tell everyone that the apples were fresh picked just for them “for a sweet new year”. 

That evening, just before suppertime, two beautiful dusty boys ran from house to house, supervised by a mom on the curb.  At each home, they proudly handed over a Spiderman lunchbag full of apples.  The smile of delight on each recipient’s face was something I wish I could capture, that I wish I could bottle to remind Max about the joy of giving.  A perfect end to a perfect day where we harvested more than apples… we harvested a little community and a bit of hope too.

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