Chick E made me SO mad tonight. Why, you ask? Because…she told me a story…a story about apple picking.
Chick E went apple picking today with her family.
Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Well, it’s not.
I remember when I was a child and my Mum would take us apple picking. You brought your own containers to carry off whatever apples you wanted. My Mum would bring large brown grocery bags. (People were eco-friendly before they were trying to be eco-friendly…) Anyways, you would drive up to the apple orchard…it would always be down some long dirt road, which was off of another long, possibly paved road. You’d park at what looked like someone’s house. You know why it “looked like” someone’s house? Because it WAS someone’s house. You wouldn’t talk to anyone, just walk out onto the vast orchards where you’d do your best to guess what apple trees were which. Macs? Maybe. Cortlands? Sure. Who really cares? We’d climb trees and use the long stick with the cup on one end to grab the out of reach ones. One person standing on the ground catching the apples that the person in the tree was grabbing. We had a mission. We were there to…get….apples.
We’d fill up these reused and recycled Heath’s Supermarket bags (Local grocery store in my town that I worked at in my teens, refer to: http://wp.me/p317Rq-7e) so much the apples would be falling out of the bag and onto the ground on the trip up to the “register” which was literally a register from 1912, with just the big typewriter type buttons. Sometimes, it was just a lady with one of those aprons with pockets in it that I think they picked up at a hardware store. And no, they don’t take Visa. What?? No.
Maybe they’d have a very rustic looking apple pie for sale or possibly some apple cider. That was it.
You got in your car, drove the 35 minutes home and carried in your 4,000 apples. Where they’d be stored in the mud room waiting for their turn at bat. Where, in the upcoming weeks would be turned into a list of apple delights that would impress even Bubba from Forrest Gump. Applesauce, Apple Bread, Apple Pie, Apple Crisp, Apple Muffins, Apple Bars, Apple Cookies and of course, more applesauce. And that was that. And as Linda Richman from Saturday Night Live always said in her show, “Coffee Talk”… “No Big Whoop.”
In today’s World, the story has changed. Gone are the simplistic days of gathering apples for good old Americana’s sake and for our lust of all things baked with apples.
When you get to an apple orchard now, there are men and woman flagging you where to park. Parking is free, by the way, so that’s nice. Then, you walk amongst the droves of people (many whom are from out of State, I’ll just leave it at that…) who are there to enjoy a slice of good old fashioned fun on a lovely fall day in New England. First off, you have to get in a long line to purchase a bag. You can’t bring your own bag(s)…you must purchase theirs. There are two sizes: Small or Large. $20 a peck. $30 a half bushel. After you wait in this line to get your plastic apple bag, you walk in a rope lined course to get to another waiting area. Here, you wait for a flatbed truck with benches to take you to the orchard. Once you arrive at the “Drop off location” in the orchard you are escorted to a briefing area where you are spoken to in true theme park fashion about flag colors and what they each represent. Yellow flag, macs. Red flag, Macouns. Green flag with black stripe, Empire. And so on. You’re told to come back to this location to await a return truck for removal from orchard.
Because you have paid so much money for these apples, you are hell bent on getting your money’s worth. So, you eat as many GD apples as you possibly can while walking through the orchard. Maybe you eat a dozen apples. Maybe not.
When you return from the orchard, you bring your small tote to the car and realize there’s much more to see and do at the orchard. Looks like some lovely family fun, a free hayride will make up for the exorbitant apple prices. As you are shoulder to shoulder with the other pickers, walking through the other parts of the farm, there are many other lines to wait in and these lines, aren’t free.
The Pony Rides Line. Your child can ride a pony for 31 seconds for $5.
The Hayride Line: You and your family of 4 can take a 6 minute hayride for $20.
The Pen with Goats, Sheep and the Occasion Llama Line: You can pat the animals for $1. Want to feed them? Another $1.
The Pumpkin Patch Line: You can buy two medium-sized pumpkins for $27.
What I’m trying to say here and getting all worked up about is this…listen…I KNOW that these people are trying to run a business. A very seasonal business that probably only allows them to winter on the lesser known beaches of Florida in the off season. I get it. They’re trying to turn a profit. But…this, I feel…falls in line with churches that tell you that God won’t love you unless you tithe $2,000 in the year 2000. (This is a story I will tell in a later blog titled, “Florida Churches are Much Different Than New England Churches.”) You’re turning something time-honored, traditional and Norman Rockwell-esque into a theme park, a circus, or a used car lot. Listen, I love theme parks. I love a good circus. And I’ve NEVER bought a brand new car…but this isn’t right.
People go apple picking because it seems like a fun way to get outdoors with family, reminiscent of a simpler time when our only technological distractions were Super Breakout on Atari, your Dad’s corded phone in his Lincoln or the TV that had no remote, just that HUGE dial that hurt your fingers to turn. (Okay, I’m really dating myself here…but you get the point.) Mostly people want to pick their own apples because doesn’t that seem like something that should be inexpensive? I’M picking my own GD apples. I’m not even asking anyone to pick my fruit off of their trees for me!
I don’t know. I just don’t think it’s right.
Are there MANY businesses that gouge the consumer? Yes. I’m not an idiot. But, I feel like, farms, for example, that grow fruit trees, should be kinder. Do I get mad at restaurants for charging me $6 for a Bud Light when I can buy a six-pack at the store for $5.99? Yes! But I expect that from them! Not sweet old apple people!!
I’m getting old. I’m complaining in a ridiculous manner about the prices of apples. (Shaking head…) Oh brother. What’s next? Maybe I’ll send my Niece a check for $5 for her birthday.
What’s the takeaway on this story? Don’t go apple picking? No. I want you to go apple picking. It’s a nice family adventure. But, maybe seek out the guys that are still on that dirt road? Wearing the Home Depot fanny pack? You don’t need a Fast Pass Ticket for the Cider Doughnut Line.
Alright, gotta go make some applesauce.
Long live the apple that’s far out of reach, even beyond the grasp of the ladder, the person with the longest arms and even the violent shake of the branch. Hang on, apple. Hang on.
Heart you. Heart you apples. Even you, the one that’s fallen to the ground and no one wants, but is still perfectly fine…for applesauce…
P.S. Sorry for the long break since my last blog. In the past week I’ve dealt with learning that I have osteoarthritis of my left hip which causes me to walk like a 92 year old, a urinary tract infection, my monthly bill and a slight cold. Too much? I’m kind of an open book, sorry. Just wanted to be straight with you, my dear, dear Follower. Back on track today. See you tomorrow. 😉