There was a palpable buzz over breakfast Saturday morning. The very words seemed to hang on our consciousness and linger on our tongues—apple picking today.
Some of us had apple picked many times before, some less frequently, and some, city slickers like me, couldn’t recall ever having plucked a fresh apple from a tree. After considering which of the trips we would like to sign up for, a drop trip an hour and a half drive away, a local service and bakery trip, or a general local picking trip, we split from breakfast with equal eagerness for the differing adventures.
I signed up for the drop picking trip, so we left early just following breakfast. My small but excited group piled into the minivan and squeezed into the truck, and, in our caravan of two, set off along the highway to our morning’s destination.
I can honestly say that the drive to and from the orchard may have been my favorite part to the trip. While some dozed, their faces either nuzzled into a friend’s shoulder or resting against the warm window, others chatted with their neighbor in the car. Every so often, all the different conversations would come to a sudden silence as we simultaneously took a moment to stare at the rolling hills of red, orange, yellow, and stubborn evergreen. During these perfect moments, the relaxing tunes of the Weepies radiated through the car speakers, drifting out of our open windows.
When we arrived, we climbed out of the cars into the heart of the orchard, a beautiful and large establishment on a downward sloping hill. The retired Brother who greeted us, a cheery man who announced he was turning 75 next month and was thereby one of the young pups of his Brothers, undeniably finalized the mood of the morning into one of lighthearted joy. He walked in and out of our rows as we gathered the freshly fallen apples from beneath the trees into our milk crates, telling us jokes and flashing kindly smiles.
While we worked to collect the McIntosh drops, we took juicy bites from the “naturally refrigerated” apples, cooled from the dew and early morning air. The sun shone brightly between the infinite rows of apple trees, warming us up as the morning went on. We quickly filled the truck with what we estimated to be 40 gallons worth of what will later become apple cider. In between this fast gathering of apples, we found ourselves with spare time to limbo beneath the low branches and jokingly share apples. Just before leaving, our host stopped back for a final joke, coaxing what must have been our hundredth collective group laugh out of us.
As we bounced along the road home, swapping stories and somehow blithe philosophies on life, I caught myself watching the trees blur by with a toothy smile, not thinking, “This is the way life should be,” but rather, “This is the way life is.”
-Addie Namnoum, Atlanta, GA