Apple Picking as Metaphor

We went apple picking with friends last weekend. It seems like such a simple thing: You park the car, you walk among the trees, you pluck your apples. But it turned out to be more complicated than that.

First off, we never should’ve anticipated a bucolic day in the orchard at the height of apple season. We pulled up to the farm and found a line of cars waiting to get in, with employees waving orange batons as if they were directing planes at the airport. My husband and I considered bailing, but our friends were expecting us. We spent the next two hours in the controlled chaos of the farm’s main area, waiting on various lines for lunch and drinks. When we finally reached the orchard itself and bought an empty sack to fill, the wide open spaces offered relief.

And then we realized how many people had already trod the pathways—many of the trees had been picked clean. Three distinct responses to the day’s twists and turns emerged:

My husband and I took this as a pull-off-the-Band-Aid situation. We just wanted to fill our bag with apples and get the heck out of there. When we found a section of trees that still offered bounty, we’d take a dozen and move on in search of the next variety. Occasionally I’d make myself stop and admire the vistas, to focus on the setting more than the frustration.

Our friends, on the other hand, laughed off the ridiculousness of a U-pick orchard with hardly any apples. They wandered the aisles, chatting and joking, occasionally stopping to pick a single apple and taste it. They seemed content to let the apple-picking take however long it needed to take, as long as they wound up with apples they loved. Our sack was filled before they’d bagged even one.

Meanwhile the three tweens (my son, his friend, and our friends’ daughter) had their own approach. They drifted back and forth between the two families, chasing each other around trees, eating apples, and expending enormous amounts of energy. Once in a while, the boys would come back to us bearing apples for the sack, but they mostly just enjoyed the day.

I wish my husband and I could’ve been more like the others. We tend to get stressed out by crowds, and the situation at the farm threw us. Cutting our losses took priority—never mind the fact that these weren’t really losses, since we were still spending the day with friends, still wandering in a beautiful setting. If I had the day to do over again, I’d worry less about the apples, and remind myself why we were really there: To bond with others, to recharge our batteries. To make memories.

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