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APPLES

Sunday, we went apple picking. It was a glorious day, and walking through aisles lined with dozens of trees laden with a variety of apples was good for the soul. Mark and I needed a day focused on something nice, so I think the simple act of picking apples had special poignancy. It certainly felt like a tender, uplifting day.


 


The ground was littered with hundreds of fallen apples in various states of decay. Some were still fresh, lying on the ground – ripe, perfect gifts that simply experienced bad timing, falling before being selected by a visitor. Knowing people were not bound to stoop over to get these unlucky apples made me somewhat sad for their fate. There were so many yellow and red globes on the ground I swear it looked like the ball pit at a children’s play place.


 


Mark said, “Wouldn’t you love to ride through here and just let the horses have a grand old picnic?” Ha. They would come out looking like elephants with short, pointy ears. However, riding through those open spaces would be a thrill, I agree.


Mark kept picking apples and taking a bite, sampling the different species. I told him that didn’t seem kosher, considering we only pay for the apples that fill our bag, but he laughed at me and pointed to the ground. “They write this public grove off as a tourist activity and I’m sure they just hope people will deplete the apples the best they can. Look around. We can’t make a dent in the ripe fruit here. Eating one more simply saves it from rotting.”


 


He was right, of course, so I began eating too. In fact, after that, I noticed everyone we encountered was munching away. OK, it wasn’t cheating after all. It was actually a way to give poor, unloved fruit a purposeful end.


 


We were aiming to pick two pecks. Not that we need that many apples, but we wanted to prolong the fun awhile.  Kent insisted that all the good apples were the ones at the top of the tree – which wasn’t at all true, but it give him an excuse to climb. We did a tag team thing where he worked his way up the branches and threw his selection down to me to bag. I was being plummeted by apples, like Dorothy in the wizard of Oz when she teased the trees. My son kept laughing, apologizing, but honestly, I know he was aiming half the time no mater how he denies it.


Mark reached up to grab a red delicious and the one next to it fell and bopped him in the nose. Once he discovered that picking overripe apples was dangerous, he developed the “hold Neva up in front as a shield, all the while getting credit for helping her reach the highest apples” technique. However, Neva is no fool. She said, “Hey wait a minute, now they are hitting me!”


“Oops,” he said innocently, winking at me as apples plummeted around him, knocking his daughter silly.


But my kid is a brave soul, willing to do battle to get the best apples. God forbid her brother accomplishes something she can’t.


 


After we had filled our bags and eaten enough apples to keep the doctor away the rest of the month, (and polished a bag of hot boiled peanuts), we left to drive on down the road to Burt’s farm. This is where we go to buy our pumpkin every year. We did this even those years we didn’t live here, for we often visited in the fall, and you can’t go to the mountains this time of year and not visit Burts. It’s a huge farm with thousands of pumpkins set out among haystacks and scarecrows. Country music is piped in and the scent of pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread wafts from the kitchen all day. Burt is famous for BIG pumpkins. Many are as big as a one of those Barbie cars kids drive. The farm has about a hundred wheelbarrows that you use like a shopping cart to bring your gourds and pumpkins to the register. We chose a 33-pound pumpkin – huge – and a smaller five pounder for Neva to carve herself. Of course, we had to get a piece of pie, three bags of popcorn, hot cider and other delights too. Going to Burt’s is not about the pumpkin. It is the all time fall kickoff event!


 


When we got home, we watched a dumb movie (Ultra violet – yuck), and I began planning for my next lesson with Kathy. She is getting cooking homework this week. I’ve put together all the ingredients for homemade chocolate chip cookies and I copied the recipe in words she can read. Tomorrow I will give her this basket of goodies, complete with flour, sugar, vanilla and a measuring cup and cookie sheet (just in case) and I will help her to understand how to read recipes. Fun.


 


One of the reasons I dreaded going to Sarasota last week was that it meant I’d be missing our reading lesson. I am committed to my dance students, true, but Kathy is my student too, and a very important one in my opinion. Last Friday she was scheduled to have her first assessment to see how much she has improved. It killed me to miss the pre-test lesson, when we would have done a review. I called her from Sarasota and asked if she wanted to postpone her test, but she said, “I am here studying my words right this minute. I’ll do OK. You just take care of what you have to take care of. You’ve already done your work, now it is up to me.”


I was thrilled. It’s encouraging that she feels confident and that she understands that my role in this kind of test is determined by what was done in the days and months before. I thought of dancers I’ve sent to competition who tended to take it so personally if I wasn’t in the room when they danced. I believed then too, that my work had already set the stage for what would happen. The actually test (or judging) was all about luck and their performance at that point. I don’t care how she scores officially (just like those dancers I sent to competition) I know my student has worked hard and I am proud of her.


Anyway, she did it without me. I can’t wait to hear how she fared. I guess my cookie homework is a sort of celebration.


 


I am also behind on homework, thanks to the impromptu trip. Not that that is anything new. But I will get my work done by staying up nights so I can send it in on the due date November 6th.   Then, I AM ON A BREAK! Yippee. I have two months off, just when we will be moving into the house (next Monday). I don’t have to tell you how much I need this MFA break.  I love to write, but my mind is swimming with literary mumbo jumbo and it needs to fester and lay dormant a bit. And other things are distracting me.


 


Halloween is tomorrow. No pumpkin buffet at my house again. Boo Hoo (not to be confused with just a boo) But I have a moon lighting the sky without competition from streetlights or suburban spread, and I have real coyotes and owls howling in the background to set the mood. Yep, Halloween is different here, but it is still good. Genuine.


 


 


 


 

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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