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We-Picked-Um

Apple Pickin'We’ve been enjoying(?) a jam packed end of summer schedule as of late, careening wildly from one place to another, trying to cram in as much fun as possible before the regimented schedules of fall lock into place.  In just a few short weeks we’ve traveled to the Jersey Shore and back, spent a Sunday watching a parade before a leisurely lake cruise, taken in the awe-inspiring site of a 1/4 scale replica of a milk truck made entirely of butter at the Great New York State Fair,  and even found some time to travel via transdimensional portal to SubDimension 26 in which humanity has been wiped out by house-sized carnivorous lemmings.  All of these events are, of course, “blogworthy” and each will have their moment in the sun over the coming weeks, but  today’s account is of our relatively low-key Labor Day activity, some early season apple picking.

As the calendar turns to September, Central New York suddenly turns into ground zero for apple-picking enthusiasts.  Seemingly overnight, a lengthy stretch of Route 20 near LaFayette turns into Apple Alley, awash in orchards with signs emblazoned with “U-Pick-Em” and “Apple Fritters” and “If You Can Read This – You’re In Range.”  Folks come from far and wide to partake in the picking process, and at dirt cheap prices, who can blame them?

I must admit that, having grown up outside of Philadelphia, I had no idea there were varieties of apples outside of the dark red Red Delicious that my mother always bought, let alone the dozens that are actually grown around here.  Nor had I ever experienced the joy of plucking a HoneyCrisp or a Gala apple straight from the tree, wiping off the excess DDT (so as to avoid harmful mutation) and taking a delicious bite, before chucking it over the trees in hopes of knocking a hapless picker off of their ladder perch.  I heartily recommend the trip if you have an orchard nearby.

We decided Labor Day morning to head out to Beak and Skiff, the number one place around here to go picking, and headed down that way right around the time they opened.  The crowds were thin, something that changes drastically as September wears on.  Instead of waiting 20 minutes in the line for the tractor as usual, instead we sat on the tractor and waited for other people to show.  We were soon out at the trees, which had been barely touched this early in the season, and proceeded to fill up our bag with the JonaMacs they were picking that day.

Faithful readers (Mom) will recall of course our apple adventure last year with my parents – Justine was but a few months old and while she gave a decent effort wasn’t particulary adept at grabbing the fruit off the trees.  This year, with her now ambulatory and rambunctious, we were able to get her to adorably grab the apples off the trees and throw them in the bag with a reasonably high success rate.  But what she really loved, as evidenced by the sizable wet apple stains down her dress, was consuming the apples.  We’d get her started with a bite, and then she just nibbled away.

Messy EaterI suppose I never really thought about how to eat an apple, but I assumed I always realized there was a core and not to eat it.  Justine, apparently not understanding this, actually ate the apple from the ends, and right through the core.  Frankly I’m still amazed that she did this, as in my experience, you’ll break your teeth on the core and grow apple trees out of your stomach by consuming the seeds.  (Man, that was a crazy summer.)  Regardless though, she loved it, as evidenced by the nuclear meltdown she had when we tried to spirit the half eaten JonaMac away from her sticky hands.

All in all it was a pleasant, and quick affair, and we left just as the main crowds began to arrive.  With a long naptime still ahead of us, we’d still find some time to relax this Labor Day.

And eat some apples to boot.

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  • http://www.pjmullen.com PJ Mullen

    She actually put them in the bag, my son wouldn't have given them up if you paid him. And where did all these different varieties of apples come from anyway? I'm with you, I only remember the red delicious my mom used to buy. If you go to the store now there are like 70 kinds of apple that have their own chart and descriptions like they are wine.

  • http://heirapparent.frantzylvania.com mwfrantz

    The amazing thing, after being a New Yorker for over a decade, I can actually tell them apart. I have favorite varieties and have a rough idea of the picking schedule. Pretty soon I'll be grafting varietals in my basement. Frightening.

  • http://heirapparent.frantzylvania.com mwfrantz

    The amazing thing, after being a New Yorker for over a decade, I can actually tell them apart. I have favorite varieties and have a rough idea of the picking schedule. Pretty soon I'll be grafting varietals in my basement. Frightening.