City people invaded Long Island’s apple orchards like a swarm of angry bees descending on a field of clover. The buzz of car engines should have given us a clear indication of the future; however, we optimistically hoped there would be enough fruit to go around.
“There must be an accident ahead.” My husband said as we sat nearly idle, creeping along at a snail’s pace.
Cars lined the horizon, turning our twenty minute drive into an hour and a half of bumper to bumper city traffic. No accident. No apples. No shortage of people.
Finally we made it to the farm. The kids poured out of the car hardly able to contain their excitement. Forced to park a mile away from the entrance, the kids half-ran, half-skipped down the side of the rode. Their anticipation fueled by delays.
My family has been accustomed to picking apples in Maine’s orchards. Rows of tall trees stretch out for acres, apples begging to be plucked from the branches. Crowds are reserved for the deer population and bags are still free. You only pay for the apples you pick, less a few tasty samples.
In New York free is a foreign word used only in other states.
Feeling robbed, cheated, and ripped-off, I purchased a flimsy apple basket for $4 (our only option) and headed for the trees. The kids, running head, darted up and down aisles dogging other pickers. The mission: seek, target, and destroy. Well, not destroy so much as devour the last apple hanging.
Glancing from tree to tree, I wandered in bewilderment. I’d never seen apple trees that resembled small landscaped bushes. Many were only waist high. Since I saw no fruit, I ignorantly asked “Are you sure these are apple trees?”
“Dwarfs,” my husband replied.
“Fast growing and rapidly producing,” he continued.
Certainly no need for apple ladders, pole pickers, or a pair of strong shoulders to perch on in this orchard. Also no need for this $4 basket!
Finally my son yelled out in delight, “I found one!”
We all ran in his direction, accelerating as we saw others running from the opposite side of the aisle. I approached just in time to see my little boy’s eyes droop; the gleam fade from his sparkling blue eyes.
Apparently we weren’t the first to spot this red gem. Two bites were stolen from the still dangling apple. We retreated in defeat vowing to go “North” next fall where apples still grown on trees, picking is an adventure, and bags are free.