Dane County (where I live) has a good number of family owned apple orchards, and when you think about it, growing apples seems like a pretty decent way to spend your time. The orchard where Lizzie and I went on Sunday was only about a 15 minute drive from her house, or to put it another way, 5 minutes past the Target on Mineral Point and Junction. Madison is still like that – every cornfield that sprouts another Target pushes you closer to another farm, but that means the drive to get someplace pretty can be pretty short.
The sun was baking the fruit at the top of the trees, and stewing the smashed “drops” lying beneath the branches. The place smelled like apple pie, or to put it another way, Heaven. People were milling around the larger trees – the Cortlands, especially, with their large yellow and red fruit – wondering how to reach the tantalizingly ripe apples held frustratingly high in the trees. Harvesting apples for fun is a modern sort of tourism – you really don’t want to have to work too hard at it. Scrounging fruit from the ground, on the other hand, is behavior all human beings can be proud to call their own. Ruling out climbing as dangerous to life and limb (for both the tree and herself) Lizzie foraged around among the Cortland drops, found 2 full bags, and got them weighed. Then we walked up the steep hill, past the tire swing, to the eating apples.
The allees of Empires were wide, and almost deserted. A tall 8 year old could easily have pulled a branch within reach, and picked 100 Empires, and had their choice of trees to do it. Lizzie was done picking, however, so we found a good apple on the ground and shared it as we walked. Crisp, white, and warm, it was like a message from another century. I found mostly pictures that felt like that to me, too – despite trying to see where the Kinfolk photographers would have looked. I thought of the snapshots people made to send with letters home, showing their prize dahlia, or how beautiful the viburnum was that year. A record, nothing more, bluntly proclaiming the truth of so many apples, held high in the sun, waiting to be picked.