It’s fall in New England and for us that means it’s obligatory apple picking season. It’s also tourists getting in my way driving super slow so they can take in the gorgeous foliage along 95 season, but I digress. We live in Massachusetts and apparently it’s the law here that once the temperature drops below 70 degrees you must participate in the mass harvesting of other people’s fruit. I have not yet met anyone up here that hasn’t done their part in gleaning all that New England’s many orchards has to offer.
And yes, I do mean many orchards. There’s one for everyone and each has something that makes it different than the rest. Hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkins, farm animals, farm stores, little John Deere tractor tricycles and apple cider donuts. So. Many. Donuts.
We’ve done the rounds of several offerings contained within an hour radius and we think we’ve landed on two or three sitting in the top spots for visitation. It’s imperative to have more than one, in case the people you are going with have their favorite or are looking for a particular apple. Yes, this matters. Even if you’ve never eaten an apple, once in New England, a connoisseur you will be. Some are better for apple crisp, and others are better for apple pies. Another is best for applesauce, although it seems applesauce is really code for I don’t know what the heck to do with all these apples I just picked and eating them just as they are seems like wasted effort. I’ve been there myself before, so I know what I’m talking about here. It even inspired a Halloween stroller costume.
This is also not a solo gig, so don’t even dream of going it alone. The more people you take, the richer your experience. We try to go with at least one other family. Many times we’ve gone with our friends the K’s. They know how to successfully maneuver the orchards with a toddler and also know where the best agritainment places are. In fact, we owe our discovery of the most awesome slide on a farm in MA to them. Miss O and Miss M could’ve done that thing for HOURS, apples be damned. We also go with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and my nephew. This is awesome because they bring the Little Tykes wagon and Miss O and Mr. A get their giggles on while we all take turns (read: mostly my brother-in-law) pulling them over hill and over dale through the apple strewn battle grounds, dodging other families, fallen trees and discarded would be applesauce. I love it because I get to see them, love up on my nephew and my sister-in-law and I can run after them on a farm, which is a nice little break from running after them in all our usual places.
This past weekend we all went up to one of our favorite spots (no, I will not tell you which one) and I have to admit, it was pretty spectacular. It’s about an hour drive, half on the highway and half through darling little towns. The leaves are just about peak and absolutely vibrant. Some of them look as if they were on fire blazing down the mountain, lighting patches in varying degrees of intensity along the road, though when I say that, Miss O starts to panic and cry because she honestly thinks they are on fire and there is nothing vibrant about that to her. We’re working on metaphors. There’s still time.
When we got to the farm, it was just about 9 AM and the weather was perfect. Chilly enough for a fleece, but warm enough to remind you why folks up here tell you to layer. Lots. Of. Layers. After borrowing a fleece from my sister-in-law, because I refuse to listen about the layers, we went into the darling little farm store and queued up for cider donuts. Hubs and my Brother-in-law got there just in time for them to come fresh off the dowel (look it up) and go nice and warm into a paper bag. We got cider for the lot of us and proceeded outside toward the wall-o-mums and pumpkins for some photos. That’s when I realized just how perfect this morning was. You really don’t get much more New England than that. Tom Brady would have to roll up on a duck boat wearing bean boots and a puffer vest, holding a giant lobster shouting “Go Sox!” to get any closer. Maybe next time.
For now, this will be one of the moments I file away for a crappy day, so I can remember how lucky I really am and what a wonderful day it was. I spent time in the corn maze chasing my two little loves, with each taking turns picking which direction we went. Thank goodness it was a small maze. Loads of giggles, though and totally worth it. I watched my daughter visit and pet all the pumpkins then say we would leave them there for “the other peoples so they can see how pretty they are, too.” Then we picked a “Cinderella pumpkin” and went to go ride the little John Deere tricycles. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. Did I mention my sister-in-law and I were both wearing plaid shirts? Red plaid shirts. White shirts underneath. This is why I love her. Not even joking.
I anguished for a few several, fine, twenty minutes over my perfect front porch pumpkin display and then my helper decided farm animals were way more fun than putting every. Single. Gourd. on our cart. After a quick visit with the chickens, goat, and pigs, I the kids were tapped out. It was starting to get busy and I wasn’t sure I could fend off the desire for kettle corn much longer. We lugged our mountains of produce back to the parking lot, wrangle the very tired kids in the cars and headed for lunch, not like any of us really needed to eat more.
Days like that are most definitely one of the reasons I love it up here. It doesn’t hurt that I adore fall to begin with, but getting a moment to give in and embrace the whole stereotypical New England autumnal fruit and gourd bacchanal really is quite magical. We joke about it every year, but I understand why people travel here to see the leaves and have some cider. I hope they all get a chance to visit as often as they like. Everyone should have a chance to find an orchard full of wildling children, scrounge for a peck of the best apples I’ve ever tasted and get sick eating cider donuts warm from the oven and covered in sugar. It’s what fall is all about.