Monday, November 7, 2011

What Apples?

A few weeks ago we headed north to go apple picking. There's a valley not far from us that feels just different enough to add a bit of country to our otherwise coastal existence. 

This particular farm is a small organic family-run operation. When we arrived we were greeted by an older woman and her husband - the owners we presumed. The woman stood while the man reclined comfortably in his brown smudged rocker. Both found shade within a red wooden stand whose splintered sides and quaint imperfections felt reminiscent of a child's lemonade stand. 

Granny Smiths were the order of the day. $1.25 a pound. The trees were full of them. The woman pointed us to the south end of the orchard without a care in the world for how we went about our picking. 

We approached the task with relative ease. A gentle twist followed with a slight tug ... and we'd procured our first quarter pound! Just like that. 

Hailey helped pace our endeavor. Littlest (who is not known for her broad palate) becomes ravenous whenever food is available straight from its original source. Apples were no exception.  

Our harvesting wrapped up fairly quickly. Unlike blueberry picking (which you could do for hours and not break the bank) apple picking requires a bit more restraint.

Back at the stand, the man rose stiffly out of his rocker and weighed our sacks. Thirty pounds of fall goodness. Since then we've eaten lots of apple crisp, vegan apple strudel, cinnamon apples, apple sauce, apple pie, etc. I think we've been a happier household because of this.

Throughout our warm afternoon on the orchard, I couldn't help but notice something. Everywhere you turned there were apples on the ground - lots and lots of apples. 

I struggled with this on several levels. The crazy cleaner in me wanted to pick up the orchard. The empathetic side felt bad for the owners. From the looks of things, this was more land than they could keep up with. The frugal part of me pondered doubling back and striking a deal with the man and his wife on this seemingly forgotten fruit. I imagined developing a cottage industry around apple sauce.

Ultimately curiosity got the best of me and I just asked the question. 

Do you mind me asking what you do with all of the apples on the ground? 

With an almost sheepish grin, the woman wiped the droplets of sweat off her forehead, surveyed the land and replied, 

What apples? I don't see any apples on the ground. 

Not the answer I was expecting.  

And that was that. I waited for her to turn the corner on her seemingly ridiculous statement. She didn't, really. She only shrugged her shoulders and explained that she certainly couldn't clean up every night. She's found a worm farm that can utilize some of the fallen fruit. But in the end, the bulk of this produce is simply folded back into the soil to hopefully enrich next year's crop. 

In the weeks following our afternoon on the farm, I've thought a lot about this lady and her apples. I'm still slightly bothered by the predicament these folks are facing. It's a lot of fallen fruit. 

Here's the irony. Truly I think that I've lost more sleep over the situation than they have. If pressed on the subject I am not at all convinced that they'd even classify their situation as a predicament

Could  it be that there is rich wisdom in deciding to not see the fallen fruit in our lives? 

Might our lives prove richer if we embrace our limitations and relax into the notion that not every opportunity or predicament requires our engagement?   

I don't know, to be honest. I'm not entirely convinced. What I do know is that there was a peace - a hot, sweaty, fulfilled, imperfect sort of peace - tucked within that red wooden stand in the valley.


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