...keeps a fleet of specialists away?
I don't know about that, but I know when it's apple "season" you can glean that much in about 30-minutes of hand-picking. I remember when I was a child, an apple tree sat in the backyard of an abandoned house next door to ours. This time of year, I'd climb that tree, and--sitting about 10 feet in the air--munch an after-school snack straight off the branch! Apple trees aren't so common in suburbia--they make such a mess of the ground when the "un-chosen" fall and rot; but finding a local orchard isn't particularly difficult, so I still manage to get my after-school snacks. And, I'm hardly in shape to be sitting 10 feet up in a tree these days anyway.
Garden helper came along for the picking, so when the biggest, best, juiciest apples were deep within a tree...
...or were even deeper, he was ready to dive in and claim them. His extreme efforts were in part due to his awareness that fresh-picked apple dishes are quite tasty! But, he was also ever mindful of the "pay scale" we'd negotiated. If we had a successful picking day, he'd earn a visit to the farm's corn maze.
This particular orchard has an educational corn maze on the grounds, so after we'd taken our bags of apples up to be weighed and purchased--and not a bad price at $0.75 per pound--we bought tickets for the corn maze and headed across the field to explore it.
A map detailed our options,
...and halfway through, we came to the tower.
This year more than any other, a corn maze strikes me as an indicator...either of folly or of hope. We either still have fields of bounty such that we can dedicate part of their growth to fun and games, or we are foolishly failing to commit needed stores to winter's pantry. I'm hoping for the former to remain our legacy for a few more generations at least!
Next, we trekked back to the country store at the entrance, passing the bins of the many varieties of apples available this time of year. Such a sight makes a nice counter balance to all the gloom and doom we hear on the financial report of the morning news...as long as we still have food growing like this!
Much like the berry farm, the apple orchard has a country store that is fun to visit. Here, you can buy dried corn, wooden rockers, muffin mixes, and most interesting of all...
...products from the bee corner. Garden Helper paused to investigate the hive sample and the bee-keeper's suit on display. He was also quite proud to know almost every question on the bee chart.
We finished our visit by selecting a jar of honey apple butter and a gallon of cider and heading out to the car.
After all, a morning in the orchard means an afternoon in the kitchen! Soon, I'll share the "fruits" of our labors in the kitchen--everything from candied apples to fun apple print art projects; but for now, let's take a break. We can have a tall glass of iced cider on the back stoop and listen to the bees hum over the basil. Happy munching!