Ever since I was just a wee, little babe, the Fall months have always been occupied with frequent weekend trips to Apple Hill to enjoy every aspect of the fruitful harvest. Just recently, however, I have discovered a new favorite past-time involving this bountiful harvest: apple-picking.
It began back in college as a way to amass copious quantities of food at a cheap price, plus it was an excellent way both to procrastinate on homework and get some fresh air. We, a ravenous pack of students, would gather on a crisp Saturday morning, early before brunch, piling into the largest vehicle we could find and head off to one of the you-pick-your-own apple orchards of Northern Virginia. We never returned with less than a large grocery bag each stuffed with juicy, plump apples straight from the tree. The drive home always consisted of plotting the variety of ways we would be spending consuming our horde...
Strangely, in all my trips to Apple Hill over the years, I had never been to a you-pick-your-own apple orchard. Looking back, it is downright scandalous...every child should have the opportunity to earn his apples by the sweat of his brow! But, finally, last year, I went up with some friends who were brave enough to fight the elements in order to enjoy those precious green and ruby gems. Unfortunately, much to our chagrin, we arrived a bit late in the season only to find the trees nearly bare. We consoled ourselves with caramel apples at High Hill.
But, never fear! This year, we were wise and headed up a bit earlier. This past Sunday was joyously spent frolicking around a beautiful orchard owned by a gracious woman who was offering her apples at $5 a half-bushel. Couldn't pass up an offer like that! We'll take two, thank you! Leaping in and out amongst the trees, we found plenty to fill our boxes...and more! A bit of a search was required, but that made it all the more adventurous. Those apples which seemed within arms reach were nearly always about two inches too far. If you jumped and tugged, you usually ended up dodging about half a dozen apples knocked loose as they rained down on you. There was always the option of the apple-picking device (does it have a name?) that one of the guys mentioned might be used alternatively as a lacrosse stick, which, of course, caused an impromptu 'apple lacrosse' match to begin -- duck! It was too bad there was a sign at the front which asked us not to climb the apple trees. That's truly the best way of getting them down...or, rather, I think I'll just sit up there and munch away the afternoon.
Oh, what to bake??