a bushel and a peck

One of the pick-your-own farms we frequent announced that they’d be open this weekend for apple-picking. Typically the picking season wraps up at the end of October, but this year (in spite of the freakishly early snowstorms) the hard frosts have been taking their time. The result is an extended apple season.

I knew I’d be tired after my travel day yesterday, but the weather was gorgeous today and I thought a day out in the fresh air would be good for all of us. Phoebe, however, really didn’t want to go. She had in mind to spend the day at home doing art projects. I think it’s great that Phoebe can get so involved in doing art projects, and I don’t want to discourage her. But I really, really wanted to go pick apples! It was a last, totally unanticipated, opportunity.

John was pretty worn out from his week of single-parenting, so he was happy to stay home with Phoebe. However, Theo did want to go, so off the two of us went.

It was a ridiculously beautiful afternoon. It was sunny with temps in the low 60s. Not even a hint of chill in the air. We got to the farm around 3 in the afternoon, and the light was turning golden.

While many of the trees had long ago finished dropping apples, there were several varieties that were still going strong. Among them, Empire apples, which is possibly my favorite variety. They are tart and crisp when freshly picked, make a very smooth buttery-textured apple sauce, yet keep firm enough when cooked to work in apple crisp. Empires are a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious, neither of which I actually particularly like. I find that McIntoshes get pretty mealy, and unless very freshly picked, I don’t like them for anything beyond making apple sauce. (They also tend to get too mushy when cooked for apple crisp.) And Red Delicious? What can I say. Possibly my least favorite apple variety. Ubiquitous in school cafeterias and sorry hotel buffets, they are often mealy and sickly sweet without a hint of tartness, and with a bitterness to the skin that makes me gag. They are useless for cooking because they are too firm, plus they don’t taste good. It is a complete mystery to me how these two lackluster parents could have produced such outstanding offspring.

Wow, who knew I had so much to say about an apple variety?

In any case, it was remarkable how many apples were left on many of the trees. (In fact, I remarked on it frequently. I must have said “Wow, I can’t believe how many apples are left on the trees!” about 30 times.) Theo and I had a great time wandering and easily filled up our 2 half-bushel bags. (Actually, Theo picked maybe 5 apples. But he also didn’t interfere with my picking progress, so that’s productive in my book.) Then we headed to the playground for some sunset playtime.

And now I have a bushel of apples. I think my work may be cut out for me.

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apple attraction

Today we went to an apple orchard for their annual apple tasting, during which they set out samples of several dozen of the varieties of apples they grow there. It’s a rather understated event, but it gives a rare chance to really try a large number of kinds of apples and learn a bit about them. We enjoyed it last year, and even dragged along a friend this time.

Apples were set out for samples along side a crate of that type of apple, most of which were also available for purchase. (There were a few varieties not for sale, as they were rare varieties–a couple even from the only tree of their kind on the orchard.) Each crate was adorned with a card with a bit of history and description of the apple, including lineage and gossip. This one had a description that particularly amused my friend, especially the bit at the end:
“While not a terribly attractive apple, its taste warrants its inclusion in any apple collection.”

On the other hand, I thought these apples were quite attractive. (I just don’t remember right off hand which they were. They might have been Rome Beauty.)

Phoebe and Theo spent some time impersonating bags of apples for sale. Attractive as they were, they proved tricky to photograph in the low light. (They were constantly in motion.) In the end, I didn’t end up with any one great photo, but the sequence rather amuses me.

How do you like them apples?

Fall has fallen here in the northern hemisphere, and in my neck of the woods, this means it’s apple-picking season.¹ Which seems like as good a reason as any to pick apples for this week’s Themed Things Thursday.

  1. Apple of my eye. An expression meaning one who is most dear to the speaker.
  2. cortland_apple.jpg

  3. The Big Apple. A nickname for New York City. One source identifies its origins from usage by African-American stablehands at a New Orleans racetrack in the 1920s. (Wikipedia says it was first used by touring jazz musicians in the 1930s.)
  4. Snow White. A fairytale in which a girl falls asleep after eating a poisoned apple.
  5. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. A saying suggesting that eating apples is good for the health. I found a bit on origins of the saying:

    From “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” by Gregory Y. Titelman (1996): “An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Eating fruit regularly keeps one healthy. First found as a Welsh folk proverb (1866)” ‘Eat an apple on going to bed,/ And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.’ First attested in the United States in 1913…”

  6. Adam’s apple. A bump on the front of the neck, tending to me more prominent in adult males, from the “forward protrusion of the thyroid cartilage.” Likely nicknamed based on the Biblical story of Eve giving an apple to Adam.
  7. archibald_apple_tree.jpg

  8. Newton’s apple. A falling apple (which may or not have bonked him on the head) may or may not have contributed to Newton’s theory of universal gravitation.
  9. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. An expression meaning that the offspring will often turn out like the parent(s).
  10. Johnny Appleseed. An American folk hero famed for planting lots of apple trees.
  11. Apple Inc.² A company. Makes computers. One line of which is named after a type of apple, the macintosh. Has a logo shaped like an apple_rainbow.jpgapple_clear.jpg
    apple with a bite out of it. Has a variety of iProducts: iMac, iPod, iPhone, iCup
  12. An apple for the teacher. An apple is known in the US as traditional gift to give to a teacher. (The fruit, not the computers. But I bet most teachers would appreciate getting an Apple.) Has (probably) led to apples showing up on greeting cards and coffee mugs as symbols of the teaching profession (along with rulers, blackboards and squid). (No wait, scratch that last one. I was just checking to see if you were still reading this.)


¹ We live in an area with many apple orchards, and Phoebe even got to go apple picking with her daycare last week. I hope we’ll get to go together some time this year. Late October last year, we went to a nearby orchard that grows over 50 varieties of apples. Pick-your-own season was past, so our experience was less about apple picking than apple choosing. But it was still fun. And the apples were yummy.

² I read that Apple Inc. officially dropped “Computers” from its name earlier this year. I hadn’t even noticed.