Part one of two. An accounting of our recent day trip to celebrate the fall season, where all you really need is a car and a full tank of gas.
We all celebrate and dread anniversaries in our lives: birthdays, weddings, the death of a loved one, the day the divorce is final. The events cause time to slow down and our animal instincts record things like smells, sounds, even the way the sun feels on our skin. The first few weeks of October has been a time of traumatic change for me: three years ago, I lost my dream of academia; two years ago, I had to say good-bye to my best friend as she went to training for Afghanistan, and I had a fight with Joel’s mother that continued to fuel the fire that would eventually become our inability to see or speak to them. Last year, I left academia and began my life in the corporate world. All these experiences have left imprints on my internal calendar. When the October sun comes and the leaves change, I sit and breathe through these traumatic emotions.
This year, I wanted it to be different. We needed to change the way I look at the beginning of October and to make new memories amongst the melancholy feeling of healing and the old memories.
When I saw the Groupon for apple picking AND 10 pounds of apples, I thought it was a perfect way to try and make new memories. Plus, we could then can the apples, which is also another couple activity we love to do together.
What sealed the deal was the idea of picking our own apples off the trees – it was too Biblical to be resisted. Joel and I have picked the apples from the tree of knowledge over the years, we might as well do it literally.
Fall is my favorite season. I love the colors. I love the temperature. And now that I don’t own a house, I don’t have to worry about how the hell to take care of all the leaves. This summer was a gorgeous one, and this fall is shaping up to be incredible as well.
We don’t really have the cash to take such trips these days, but a day trip is a pocketbook-friendly way to unwind after a tough week. Our trip would eventually lead to Lake Pepin and Grumpy Old Men country, but with the Groupon Becky found, we could kick the whole thing off with an apple orchard.
Nelson’s Apple Farm is 30 minutes south of the cities, unless I’m driving and we have to deposit a check on the way and I miss the onramp for 169 and then we miss whatever turn that Google said to make in Savage. Then it becomes a 75 minute adventure! Luckily we had our GPS as backup, but since the car’s cig lighter doesn’t work, we can’t recharge the thing while driving. This means we have about one hour of use out of the thing before it dies. Like money, we have to budget GPS help.
Arriving at the farm, we were greeted by an older woman in blue crocs who told us to sample the apples out front to decide which ones we wanted to pick. There are TONS of apple orchards in Minnesota, but few of them allow you to go out and pick your own apples. They had an organized system where you tasted the apples, and then filled your bag full of apples you’ve never heard of before.
I’m wicked weird about apples. If the apple is too sweet or sour it hurts my teeth, and I HATE Honeycrisp Apples. I realize that is like screaming that I’m Satan in Minnesota because the Honeycrisp IS the Minnesota State fruit. People are rabid about Honeycrisp Apples. I don’t think they are anything special, they just had a really good marketing campaign.
After choosing the apples, we were told we had to ride the tractor to get to the field where the Red Barons grew. We were forced to wait for the tractor, so I resentfully went to the petting zoo because they creep me out. But something about the sheep and the cow, animals not usually in petting zoos, and their trusting nature to let me touch their faces and scratch their ears, healed and blocked flooding memories.
We filled our bag half full with Red Barons for Becky. I was hoping to get some Wealthy apples after trying them and loving them. Did you know Wealthy apples have been around for more than 100 years and they were the first Minnesota-bred apple to survive our winters? Me neither, since I never see them in the supermarket. Unfortunately, this variety had already been picked clean, so I had to go with Sweet 16s.
We climbed onto the tractor and out to the Red Barons we went. The others on the tractor, of course, wanted Honeycrisps. So, we were able to have nice couple time picking apples and taking pictures. We cuddled on the tractor, and I surround myself in Joel’s love and support in beautiful nature — a necessity for healing and change. He kissed me through the flashbacks and melancholy feelings. A dear friend sent us the Robert Frost poem, “After Apple Picking” once he heard of our adventure. Frost’s narrator writes:
“Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.”
The apples of our life, no matter traumatic or beautiful, need to be “cherished in hand, lift down, and not let fall.” My answer to those times when you fall victim to reliving the traumatic events or have an anniversary of one. Go apple picking.
It’s weird for Becky and me sometimes. We don’t have or want children, yet we always seem to end up at places that people only go if they have children. We’re the only ones walking around without three year olds hanging off our legs, which makes us feel like the odd ones out. What is it about these places that people don’t want to go as adults unless they have kids? I don’t understand it, because these places are fun, inexpensive ways to spend a beautiful day in Minnesota. And you get to pet sheep and goats! Are you too cool for sheep and goats, adults of Minnesota? What I’m saying is it’s fun as an adult, too. So get out there and enjoy it!
Thus ends part one. On Thursday, find out what happens when we venture into Wisconsin, the Shelbyville of Wabasha.