A funny thing about being back in a traditional, four-season climate is the pressure I feel to make the most of each season. Must go leaf-peeping/snow-shoeing/swimming before it's toooo late! I don't remember my parents worrying much about this stuff when I was growing up - did we go to a pumpkin patch, ever? The parking lot of the local Osco-Jewel was the only pumpkin patch we knew (well, except for Gene the Pumpkin Man's farm, if we happened to be in Michigan). Still, this seize-the-season compulsion motivated us last weekend to go apple picking, and our research led us to Amesbury's Cider Hill Farm.
The place looked like quite a zoo as we pulled up, almost theme-parkish, with lots of cars in the parking field - it was a warm, blue-skied day, after all, perfect for outdoor family activities - but once we headed into the orchard the crowds sort of melted away.
I haven't been apple picking many times. I remember going once when I was really little, when we lived in Connecticut, and my godfather climbing the trees to get the best apples. When I went at Nashoba Valley Winery just after college, they gave us each a long pole with a little basket on the end, for reaching into the upper branches to snag our fruit.
By contrast, the trees at Cider Hill seemed quite small. I'm assuming they're deliberately pruned to keep them at a manageable picking height. Whatever they're doing, it doesn't seem to be hurting the trees. Even rather late in the season, the trees were bountifully laden, almost ridiculously so. Too many apples!
So many apples, there was even accidental applesauce on the ground.
The wasps were benefitting from the sweet plenty, as well.
That name Cider Hill is no mere marketing ploy. The orchard really is up on a hill, and a rather steep one. As we sorted through the many rows of trees, trying to decide between Northern Spies and Cortlands, the occasional apple came bounding toward us with the speed of a rogue fast ball, as though pitched by some sneaky, apple-pickin' hooligan. But it wasn't, at least I don't think so, just an amplified effect of Newton's Second Law.
It truly was a great day to make the most of the season. The blazing leaves alone were worth the expedition.
Now what are we going to do with all these apples?