Every year around this time (admittedly my birthday), my Mom and I spend time together. This year, we spent a quiet day together traveling miles to the east to pick apples. 200 lbs of apples!
The day was enchanting.
The surroundings of Eastern Oregon are so vastly different from the hustle and bustle of my more populated home. Recalling the scenery of the day, I hold visions of antelope casually grazing alongside the road, a tanned and shirtless farmer walking through his green field, stately old farm houses perched along the winding John Day River, and always the captivating topography of the region towering over us.
When I was young, my family made this trip out east to the orchards at Kimberly often. As a child, the drive held no more fascination than discovering more methods of annoying my brother in the backseat. Always, my brother and I arrived at the orchards tired, grumpy, and impatient.
This time, I eagerly anticipated the orchards, wondering if I remembered them from my childhood.
The orchards are located in a canyon along the John Day River. The lush trees, heavy with fruit, seem unreal when compared to the neighboring parched and barren hillsides.
The scenic byways of the region claim, "Journey Through Time," and admittedly the theme is accurate. Visiting the orchards, the small towns, the geological sites, is like traveling back into an earlier time in history.
After a few hours in the car, we checked in at the orchard's farm stand. I browsed the canned goods (apricot topping, danish cherries, organic applesauce...), tomatoes the size of small pumpkins, and the vast quantities of fruit. A small baby sat in a bouncy seat nearby as the older woman talked to my Mom. My Mom recounted one of our trips to the orchards so long ago, when my brother was a toddler. In an attempt to keep him occupied, she gave him a peach and he not only ate it but smeared it all over himself while sitting in the grass in the peach orchard.
This time, we were lost in the orchards, both figuratively and literally. Underneath the trees, the light was fluttery, peeking through the leaves which rustled in a very subtle wind. It was quiet there. The only sound was the apples dropping from the trees. We marveled at their size and beauty and it didn't take long before our boxes and baskets were full.
And now I have boxes and boxes of apples.
Applesauce, dried apples, apple pie, apple turnovers, these apple squares, apple juice... The list of yummy things to make is long. So today, on my birthday, I will play with apples and remember the trip through time that brought them to me...