Slice of Life: Out in the Orchard

(This is for Slice of Life, a writing feature by Two Writing Teachers. You write, too)

apple picking oct2015

“… and no climbing trees.”


“No climbing trees. That’s what the rules are. We pick apples, not climb trees.”

“These are the best climbing trees in the world.”

“Still, no climbing.”

He sulked off. I understood. An apple orchard is a dream field of climbing trees, but I also understood the reasons why the apple orchard owners would prohibit it. Think of liability. Think of kicked apples.

I was Mister No. But I could see what he was thinking. Apple trees do make for some fine climbing, with branches close together like steps, and the insides of the tree curving and hidden, like some secret fruit-scented tunnel off the ground.

It’s a banner year here in New England for apples, and you can see clusters and clusters of apples on just about every single tree in the orchard we visit as a family. Some family drove in from Rhode Island to experience the start of fall colors (already spectacular) and the picking of apples. Yummy.

“Why do they get to go in the tree?” He pointed to some kids in a tree, as their parents looked up from below.

“They shouldn’t be.”

“But, they are.”

“I know. They aren’t following the rules.”

He crunched an apple angrily.

In summer, we go blueberry picking. In fall, it’s apples. It’s more than an excuse to get the family together. It’s also a way to remind us, and our children, that food comes from somewhere, and that the farmlands of New England hold a special place for all of us. It’s a reminder of things we often forget.

“Stop that.”


“Don’t throw apples like grenades.”

“Why not? There are apples everywhere. A few more on the ground won’t make a difference.”

“It’s the …”

“Rules. I know.” He dropped the apple and huffed off, disappearing into the green branches of a tree. An apple came zooming out of the tree. I chose to ignore it.

This year’s apples are juicy and sweet, and a reminder of the wet spring we had so many months ago. It’s interesting how one season affects the other, and how we forget about the recent past until some faint echo sneaks up on us again.

Peace (in the orchard),

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  1. Damn those rules. It’s funny, I’m a rule breaker for so much of my life, but I feel a personal responsibility to small business owners particularly farmers. My kids are still pretty little but I can see they feel I’m a killjoy sometimes.Here in Maine the apples are plentiful and memory-filled as well. I hope you took him someplace he could climb a tree legally. That’s like a restless leg syndrome in itself. 🙂

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