Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lessons from Apples, New England in the fall.

Last weekend we went apple picking with friends.  We've gone to the same farm, Russel Orchards, for three years now, taking a hayride behind a tractor to the orchard, wandering the rows of trees searching for our favorite types of apples.  The apples have taught me many lessons over the years, and I'm glad it's part of our family's fall traditions. 

Apple picking 2009

Apple picking 2010

Apple picking 2011

Apple picking 2011
First, I didn't know there were so MANY types of apples.  The grocery store where I grew up would have Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Granny Smith and that was it as far as I knew.  Apples were Red or pale Green or bright Green.  The apple orchards at Russels are filled with names I've never heard, but I'm loving every one of them!  Last year, we scheduled our trip too late in the year, and missed the Honeycrisp, I was devastated and vowed to check the status of my favorite apples.  I'm happy to report that this year, my apple bag was filled with plenty of crisp, sweet, luscious Honeycrisp apples, perfect for baking and eating. 

Chester has decided he likes Honeycrisp too!
Second, to my parents and grandparents, who grew up on farms, apple picking is not a fun fall family event, it's what your family did to harvest the apples each fall- WORK!  The concept of apple picking as fun was a difficult one for my parents to digest, but they did enjoy it with us two years ago. 
Grandma and Pete 2009
Grandpa and Pete 2009

Next, I owe an apology to the professors from ACC 499.  As a business student, I couldn't wrap my head around people choosing to pay more for organic foods (which I now purchase) or farmers turning their fields into tourist attractions (which I now visit).  They said that small farms would have a tough time simply producing food to sell as their sole business and offered educational school tours, seasonal festivals and CSAs as examples of ways a farm could bring more income without significantly changing their core business values.  I laughed at these tree hugging demma-commies and barely passed the class.  (It didn't help that it was at 9am on a Friday morning in the spring of my senior year, I was slightly distracted or hungover for most of the classes.)  I don't even remember the professors who taught the class, but I'd like to apologize.  I tip my sulfite-free-organic-wine to you gentlemen!

Finally, the lesson that should have been obvious to me:  Even a very enthusiastic three and a half year old little boy can't handle a peeler without slicing a chunk of his finger off.  Thankfully, it did not get on any of the other apples, and I was able to stop the bleeding and bandage his poor finger before any further damage was done.  I guess that part of our fall bonding will have to wait another year or two. I peeled and sliced the rest of the apples while the boys watched Diego.  Both of the boys, however, thoroughly enjoyed licking the spoons after I mixed together the flour, butter, sugar, oats and spices for the apple crisp topping.   I guess that part doesn't have an age restriction!