Apple picking expectations

Last weekend, my years of apple picking dreams including abundant trees, serene and secluded settings, lush farm land and crisp, sweater bundled weather screeched to a sudden and violent halt. I went apple picking LA style…

Let’s start here… Two hours of 6 lane traffic landed us at the apple farm. As my dear friend Danette, her daughters and I arrived to the farm, we were directed to the amusement park sized parking lot by poorly costumed colonial farm workers. A large billboard listed the show-times for the colonial re-enactments. There is nothing wrong with colonial re-enactments and apparently, lots of people find this enjoyable. I’m simply acknowledging a difference of opinion. Not in the mood for a show, we took off in the flat 90˚ weather dodging the crowds of people towards the barely marked apple orchard. Apparently most people came for the shows, not the actual apple picking.

After locating the coy orchard, we waited in line for Colonial Dave’s apple picking instructions, including not consuming the apples before soaking because they have been heavily sprayed. My organic soul grieves for food that you can’t eat off the tree. But we resigned to washing our apples and bought our apple-picking bucket (I liked the bucket), heading now towards the much anticipated apple orchard.

Mind you, I have no means of comparison, but if this orchard represented apple picking… then apple picking is running a killer marketing campaign. The trees were totally picked over. You couldn’t reach a good apple. The limbs were brittle and sparse, and for pesticide riddled trees, they sure had a lot of bugs and worms.

Maya and I split from Danette and Mina to seek our favorite apple variety, and after a semi-productive search, Maya borrowed an apple poll from a friendly stranger to pluck the remaining apples from the tippy tops of the trees. While she worked, I plopped on the ground, positioned my jacket behind me and laid back with my half full bucket of apples seated at my side. Exemplifying my disconnect, I was pleased to have cell reception to text my hubby hello. And then, I settled back to absorb the reality of the day.

Quite quickly, my inflated expectation depression shifted with my surrender. As I stared up at the sunny CA sky, I could hear Maya’s sweet voice excited by a successful grab. I had carved a spot of my own in this apple orchard to enjoy the sun and family chatter on my own terms. I laid there for about 10 minutes until Danette and Mina made there way back up with buckets brimming with apples. They were excited, and I was getting there, too.

We meandered down the trail to top off our buckets with granny smith’s in the bottom orchard. I delighted in the fresh peace of my shifted perspective. The farm and colonial workers were about to close their 9-5 farming day, and the sun had lowered in the sky to cast an amazing hue of orange across the land. The farm increasingly gained dimension and crisp air began slicing the heat of the day.

Apparently intoxicated by the magical transformation, we decided to give our apples a good shirt wipe and taste, chemicals and all. No pesticide was going to ruin our eat off the tree – apple picking experience. No way. So, wipe we did and each of us took a big apple bite.

Holy mother of all things edible. My first taste threw me for a gigantic loop. This apple had the most intense crispy, crunchy, apple-cidery taste ever. Seriously good. For the next 50 steps, nothing came from our four-some except ummmm, oh my, holy cow and try this! We traded apple experiences, practically grabbing them from one another’s hands.

Then… I dropped my luscious, unassuming apple squarely in the dirt. All four of us starred at it for a while. The once pristine apple looked frightened by it’s dirt and our stares. I felt crushed and ashamed. Mentally apologizing profusely for my sour apple-picking attitude which must have somehow contributed to the loss of such a harmless apple soul. But then, I realized I had 12 more where that came from, chucked it over the forest edge and reached for apple #2 without skipping a beat.

Our return trip echoed the shifted mood. No longer cursing traffic, a peaceful, happiness embraced our drive. Mina had to go to the bathroom about 25 minutes from home. Not quite ready for a 30-minute detour, Danette and I created a game to distract Mina’s pee-brain (referring to her physical state – not her brain size.) We started a story and passed it to the next person for continuation. Mina’s stories somehow always involved bathrooms, but we did make it home.

I climbed up the stairs to my apartment; arms laidened with my farm goodies. I now had weeks worth of apples to figure out how to eat. There is no type of cooking that I love more. Apple picking – I’ll be back.

xo – Organic Spark


  • mschrec

    I tried to go apple picking two weekends ago with Megan and a bunch of her teacher friends. On the way there, the radiator in my love van blew up. We pulled over and spent seven hours at a Latino mechanic in northwest Indiana. So quit bitching!!!!

    October 27, 2008
  • Molly Chester

    Matt – That story was vaguely reminiscent of trips to Stone Harbour! Megan told me that you guys found a salt of the earth casino to pass the time. It couldn’t have been all bad. :)

    October 27, 2008
  • madness rivera

    Mmm, Molly, maybe we shoulda veered off to a desert casino instead and played $1 Let It Ride with the Yes on 8 people instead. I think there’s a colonial-themed casino somewhere you’d enjoy. There’s gotta be!

    October 28, 2008
  • John

    Molly, where’s the recipe? We need a recipe! Apple pie, apple cobbler, apple crisp… apple anything! You can’t give us apples and no apple recipe. :)

    October 30, 2008

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