We went to pick apples today even though it's early in the season for apple picking. We went with our daughter and her new husband, using this opportunity to get to know a little better this man who has our little girls heart in his hand. He tells us that he has never actually gone out into an orchard to pick apples before, so this is a new experience for him. Having a married daughter is still new to us too and we are learning and growing in this relationship.
The day started out cool, but warming quickly we succumbed to using the car AC. The drive along the river road was calming, peaceful, quiet with the windows rolled up and no radio playing. It was nice. Our conversation is lazy like the slow moving flow of the Big Muddy that runs beside the road, getting essential news and letting the rest go, enjoying the ease of the morning.
At the orchard we join the other eager apple pickers, climbing with bags in hand, into the wagon being towed behind an old farm tractor. Cameras are poised and there are smiles around in anticipation of filling our bags with the freshest of fare; our choice of red delicious, golden delicious or johnny golds. The wagon lumbers slowly through the fields and orchards, rocking us back and forth almost encouraging us to let the stress of the past week go. We are all surprisingly quiet. It must be working.
After the farm hand recites his instructions we make our way through the rows of apple trees picking only the best, perfectly formed fruit. Its hard for me to see all of the fruit that has already fallen on the ground and I'm tempted to rescue some of the recent fallers that still look too good to let go to waste. (Our daughter admits she has the same struggle.) Instead force I myself to look up and move on, remembering that they are only apples and they don't need me to rescue them.
I look down one row and see my husband and son-in-law carefully choosing and inspecting before picking the apples that go into their bags. Seeing them side by side makes me happy we decided to do this today. It's another bonding experience and even though we often make jokes about "bonding", it is a serious and important thing.
I pick a small johnny gold, rub in on my leg to see if it will shine; it does and I take a bite. It is sweet and juicy and drips down my chin. I notice that several of the other "pickers" are doing the same thing. I think we all ate at least one apple while in the orchard. My husband and son-in-law both have half eaten apples in their hands too. It feels indulgent to be eating fruit right from the tree, like we're getting freebies.
Another tractor and wagon arrive and we wait patiently to switch places with the next group of apple pickers. Our bags are full, the sun is becoming more intense and we are eager to find some relief from the rising heat. I am thankful for the small breeze we get at the top of the hill as we slowly make our way back to the barn where we will pay for our harvest.
We find a place in the small river town to have a bit of lunch. It has been a lovely day, sweet, fresh and we are filled in more ways than one and I am thankful.