I haven’t had lots of experience being on a farm. I didn’t grow up around many rural people, and so my knowledge of how farmers roll and what country life is like is very limited. I have never been on a hay ride or been to a barn dance and am aware, even as I type this, that both of those things may just be farm stereotypes that don’t even really happen any more. Like many things, scarily enough, I may have just picked up these ideas from the movies. Hayrides just make me think of Inga from Young Frankenstein (Roll, roll! Roll in zee hay!) and barn dances just make me think of Laura Ingalls. So you see, I have no idea. However, one of the best memories of my childhood takes place on a farm.
Each fall, my mom and dad would drive me outside of our factory-clad little city. We’d get off the expressway and onto long, windy roads that were lined with orange and red trees and large expanses of flat, grassy, midwestern goodness. From there, we’d end up at an apple orchard. At this apple orchard was a big red barn. In the big red barn was heaven. Fresh apple pies, apple fritters, apple jellies, applesauce. (I sound like an apple version of Bubba from Forrest Gump, don’t I?) There was a big apple press in there for apple cider on the spot. There was even a big old fashioned doughnut making machine. As a kid, I would stand there and watch as the doughnut batter was mixed and then fried, and then placed directly into my hands, the cinnamon-scented heat still rising off of it. We’d eat up some apple stuff and then I’d get to go run around in the crispy leaves between the rows of trees. Little kid paradise, for sure. I loved every minute of it. The drive with my parents, watching the landscape change from lots of houses to lots of trees, the barn, the eats, the stomping through the orchard. If I could get even half of the feeling of those memories back, I would cry with happiness, I swear to Johnny Appleseed.
So, in my doldrummy mood that I was in over the weekend, I happened to come across a mention of an apple orchard in the New York Times archive. The article was about scenic orchards around the country, and one of the ones listed was only a couple of hours away from Seattle. I told Nordic Boy the memories this evoked for me, and he suggested we take a roadtrip and find a little slice of that appley feeling.
So, before I knew it, we had gone from this
On the way, we stopped at a little grocery store/gas station/bank/coffee shop and were welcomed with a sign that said
How quaint is that? Where friends meet friends! Right there in front of the vending machines! Lookee, even the Coke and the Pepsi, such bitter rivals in other places, stand next to each other in what I swear looks like a friendly stance, like Oscar and Felix. I’ll have you know that I stood there for a good ten minutes while Nordic Boy filled up on gas and went on a pee break, and I didn’t meet any friends, but I still appreciated the thought.
We got to the orchard, and I soaked in the scenery, while Nordic Boy immediately started shopping. Who says I am the power shopper in this relationship?
And although there wasn’t any cider press or doughnut machine, we did frolic about the place.
And although the leaves weren’t orange and red, they were still sufficiently crispy for tromping through.
We bought ourselves a bag of apples and oh yeah, a compact strawberry tree (an unexpected bonus), and headed home. It wasn’t the same as I remembered from when I was a kid, but it did maybe 25% of the trick. Had they had doughnuts, it would have made up for a lot. Add a doughnut to anything and life just seems better.
Truly, it was a sweet day. And, in the way that memories pile up, I am sure that some day, I will long for a day like this in the same way that I now long for the apple orchards of my childhood. Piling on the good memories is what life is all about, Charlie Brown.
I don’t know why I just said Charlie Brown there. Didn’t that sentence seem like something Linus would say?