The infamous Grandma Allison is visiting, and we are trying to enjoy every bit of the much too short week she has with us before she heads back to Alaska.
Although it is admittedly late in the season to be apple picking here in Virginia, we decided to hold off until Grandma came. We love picking apples – it is one of our favorite family activities. The mountains are beautiful, the fresh air is exhilarating, and the children are free to run (or cry) without being slowed down or shushed. As we usually opt for the cheaper (and more easily accessible when you’re only 2 feet tall) ground apples anyway, we figured the lateness of the season wouldn’t hurt us too badly.
Monday we woke up to a gorgeous, sunny, crisp fall day (very welcome after the weeks of summer we had just experienced!). Ethan checked our usual orchard’s website to determine the availability of the apples, and we crammed into the van to travel the 1½ hours of pretty drive. “We’re almost there!” we kept telling the kids. And then, finally, we were there, where a large “Orchard Closed” sign forbad us to go any farther.
Fortunately for this cranky, crammed, hungry group, there was another orchard less than a half mile away. “We’ll try there,” we promised. And this time, we were not disappointed. The lady owner welcomed Ethan with a large grin and told us to pick clean her orchards, free of charge. We were the only pickers there…an entire orchard to ourselves. The children ran, dragged their feet, laughed, and cried in turn. Edee (9 mos.) delighted in riding on Grandma’s back. Benjamin (5) and Lily (3) delighted in showing Grandma their finds. Abraham (2) delighted in biting into an apple, yelling, “EWWW!” and spitting it out with great drama, over and over and over. Miriam (2) delighted in finding no delight. We chomped on delicious Stayman and Red Delicious apples, wavered between sweatshirts on/sweatshirts off, took pictures of the five children on an apple bough, and went back to thank the owner by purchasing some cider. To our surprise and wonder, the cider was fresh and unpasteurized. This is a rare thing to be able to find in Virginia, and it is scrumptious! We also purchased some very low-priced local honey (raw and unheated), and then she had each of the children pick out a free pumpkin.
After this, we finished filling our bellies at a local ma-n-pa-Cracker-Barrelish restaurant/store, called The Apple House. We were treated to delicious pork barbecue sandwiches (roasted in an apple sauce); and we wandered the store, exclaiming over quilts, lotions, Very Badley (ahem) priced quilted purses, and specialty sauces and candies.
It was wonderful.