My second favourite orchard is an apple orchard. My childhood playmate lived on a farm with not only livestock but an apple orchard. I loved running up and down the rows, playing, dreaming, scheming…
An overripe apple that has fallen but not yet decomposed, while gross to the touch, has the sweetest smell.
But my strongest apple memory is the tradition of making apple pies on a Saturday late September or early October. While I treasure my cherry memories for the solitude their provided I didn’t love apple picking as much as I loved pie day.
I believe it started as a fund-raiser for the boy scouts; no matter, everyone was involved. The men were camped out at one end of the church gym with their apple peeler/corers. (We would steal the peels and snack on them.) They were jovial and told animated stories, only some of which we believed.
In the middle of the gym was a motley crew of young and old, and this was definitely the most transient of stations. Some would cut the apples into bite-sized pieces and then they would be sifted through bins of cinnamon and sugar. (Do I even need to tell you my role at that station? yum!) It was usually younger people here, and I remember working at this station and singing “Enid” (by the Barenaked Ladies) at the top of my lungs. Hmm, I guess at this station we were also in charge of the boom box.
The other end of the gym was where the women rolled out their crusts and assembled the pies. (I have to admit, I even like a little bit of pie crust dough … especially with cinnamon and sugar!) It was here that I stood shoulder to elbow with my mother and my friend’s mothers. They were more serene than the men and really took pride in their work.
We sold hundreds of uncooked pies; ready to be cooked or frozen. People in the community had standing orders with us and anticipated the fall for our apple pies. I guess my parents always bought one or two because I’m quite sure I’ve eaten them, but that isn’t what stayed in my memory, it was the making of the pies that I loved. (incidentally, I do make a better apple pie than any store-bought one I’ve ever tried and it’s probably no small coincidence that I made pies yearly.)
I think it was the first time that I realized that doing something could be even better than the final product.
And as soon as I learned my lesson the Boy Scouts changed their fund-raising policies and pie days ended. It was also the year we moved back up to the Yukon.
Lesson learned; project over.