One thing I love about New England (besides the sports teams, the pace of life, and the old charm) is fall. The air is brisk, the city is rich with newfound school spirit, I can break out my sweaters and riding boots, and people don’t look at me like I’m insane for drinking hot tea like they do in the summer. Fall in the Northeast is really something special. Tourists from all around come to see the leaves, the red barns, and do New-Englandy-stuff like scenic drives among the changing leaves, eating fresh kettle corn straight from the vat, and apple and/or pumpkin picking in the many orchards scattered around the region.
A fortuitous text last night planned what turned out to be a perfect fall Sunday in New England. My friend, Scheister, invited me to breakfast, and then to go “orcharding.” I was a bit surprised to hear from him, but pleased to have plans nonetheless – except I had no idea what “orcharding” was.
I ran this by another friend and my cousin, and they both asked, “What the fuck is that?” As I later found out, it is a new term that Scheister coined when he decided to invite me. It means “going to an orchard and picking whatever specialty they have, and eating and drinking fair-type food.” Despite living here my whole life, I’d never really done it before, and after today, I’m totally on board. The plan was to meet at 9:30, get the unhealthiest breakfast possible, and then head to Bishop’s Orchards.
The drive was maybe an hour long, and we took back roads, since Scheister positively abhors the highway. We drove through the backwoods towns of central Connecticut, and I was surprised at how quiet and peaceful they were. No New York Leafers (check out the Family Guy episode on these people), no elderly senior citizens out for a Sunday drive…we were able to cruise along and take in not only the scenery beautiful, but insanely fun, twisting roads…
…I mean, I think they would have been fun, but as a good, careful, cautious driver, I was strictly observant of all speed limits and did not pretend it was my own personal race track. Who, ME?! OF COURSE NOT!!! (But, because I do value my life and was in a crappy FWD car with shit suspension, I do not have any photos, which is unfortunate because it really was my favorite part of the day.)
When we reached the orchard, the first stop was at the country store, where we participated in a wine tasting with wines made from only fruits grown on the premises. This meant apple, pear, and berry wine. While trying to find the winery, which was actually just a small alcove in the back of the store, we wandered around and took notes of what to buy. We ate an apple cider donut each, and then went to pick some of our own apples.
A short drive later, we found rows and rows of apple trees, and set out to “twist and pull gently, till it snaps off.” (I’m not joking – those were the actual printed instructions.) There were several different kinds of apples, but we opted for Fuji, mostly because it was the only one we’d actually heard of. Unfortunately, yours truly happens to be vertically challenged, and I missed out on some of the best apples, way at the top. Where’s a strapping 6’5″ gentleman when you need him? (Or, you know, anyone over 5’6″ would have been okay, too).
An hour or two later, the apples were heavy, our souvenir tasting glass was bone dry, and the kettle corn we purchased was begging to be devoured. With one last walk around the store, we decided to call it a day, as the sun was beginning to set, and the meteorologists predicted below freezing temperatures for the overnight. We took our purchases and headed home, full of popcorn, apples, and memories of a fun fall day.