On Sunday, we took advantage of the Patriots bye week and went apple picking. Which is to say, when the concept of a Sunday without mandatory football was broached, I latched onto it like a leech on those kids in Stand by Me and decided it was time to do something involving fresh air and seasonal fun. Don’t get me wrong—I am enjoying the football this year. But it’s good to mix things up a bit.
We went to an orchard in Groton because it’s late in the apple season and most of the orchards we found online were closed for picking. On the way out on 119, we passed a pumpkin patch. Not one of those roadside stalls piled high with pumpkins, but a real pick-your-own pumpkin patch. Neither of us had ever been to one of those before, so we pulled over and walked down to where the pumpkin vines covered a ten-acre field like old, gnarled knuckles. As we walked, the patch’s owner passed us on his tractor and roared out an extremely loud greeting. We giggled. Everyone was happy at the patch. Among the misshapen, the rotted, the still mostly green, and the way too big for our needs pumpkins, we found one that was just right, as well as a couple of brightly colored gourds. Carrying our finds back up the hill, the jocular farmer passed us again and roared out something else to the group he had on his hay-covered flatbed. If Santa Claus was real, he’d sound like this guy. We are so going back next year.
The orchard, once we found it, was perfect. Though we were late enough in the season that most of the trees only had apples on the top branches, this meant that we almost had the place to ourselves and that was better than picking at the height of the season. No jockeying for ladders with 6-year olds, no getting clocked on the head by apples that someone high in the tree shakes down by accident. We filled our two bags leisurely, climbing trees when we wanted to and walking between the rows in whichever direction seemed best. Along the way, I rediscovered a childhood obsession that I’d completely forgotten about---milkweed pods. They were everywhere, sprouting big white tufts of silky seed pods just begging to be flung in the air. So I flung—and flung and flung and flung. At some point in life I want milkweed in my back yard so that I can regress to age 5 whenever fall rolls around.
Then, tired and jonesing for apple cider doughnuts, we went home and watched football.