I suppose that every season has its unique qualities. There are those things that make it special, the specific traits that cause people to be excited when that season comes around again each year. But, for me, Fall always seems to top them all. It has pumpkins and colorful leaves. It has cool, crisp air, which leads to the return of sweaters and all things hooded. It has delightful smells, costumed children, candy corn, and…not to be forgotten…it has apple-picking.
If there’s one activity that has marked the arrival of Fall for just about every year of my life, it’s apple-picking. To me, as a child, apple-picking happened in Vermont. It took place every October and was a highlight of the passage from summer to Autumn. Vermont apple-picking, however, was not like the Connecticut apple-picking that I’d later come to know. Vermont apple-picking had its own unique allure. It followed a very specific pattern, starting with a half-an-hour drive from our somewhat isolated summer cottage into and through town and then back into a different, yet equally isolated, countryside where the orchard was located.
These trips were always taken with our Vermont neighbor, Georganna. The three constants when it came to apple-picking were Georganna, my sister, and me. Sometimes others joined us. It varied by year. But, it was a given that the three of us would always take the annual apple journey. We set out with a mission: to collect as many buckets of apples as we could carry back down the orchard’s steep hills. We knew our mission well. Many apples meant many of Georganna’s delicious pies. And, that, my friends, was a worthy mission indeed.
Our job was to pick the “drops” rather than pick directly from the trees. Tons of beautiful apples fell off the trees before being able to be picked by hand. And, it was our quest to get the best of these “drops.” Looking back, I think this was a great way to learn the art of apple-picking as a kid. There was no frustration over towering branches or stems that refused to release their crimson fruit. In fact, it was almost like an Easter egg hunt….but for apples. It wasn’t until later in my life, when I finally ventured off on a Connecticut apple-picking adventure, that I ever picked an apple directly off a tree.
However, to me, the apple-picking style is of little significance. Whether rescuing drops or claiming the shiniest apple off the branch, apple-picking is more about the mindset than the method. It’s about reveling in a new season, soaking up the beauty of creation, and loving every minute.