I almost couldn't believe it. But there it was, crawling across the screen of my iPhone, illuminated by new messages in my gmail inbox.
"I hate apple picking," I said, standing up slowly from the couch, keeping my eyes on the tiny tick making its way toward my thumb, which had been hovering over "delete." I blamed the day's outing for its presence. The last tick I found hitched a ride on the dog, causing me to rethink, albeit momentarily, my ardor for household pets.
"Well ... you didn't want a BlackBerry," my husband says smiling at his own joke. "Seriously, though. You have to cut its head off with your fingernail. Those things are nasty."
I take it into the kitchen and practically set the place on fire trying to rid myself of the reason I'd never set foot outdoors if it were a viable option (and one that wouldn't deprive my kids of a relatively normal childhood, fresh air or Vitamin D).
The half bag of hand-picked apples is mocking me from its place on the counter. Little does it know its contents will be peeled and sliced and baked into pies. Probably tomorrow. Or maybe the next day. Because who doesn't like pie? I'm not even going to jest about that possibility.
What's wrong with going to the farmer's market and getting the kind that are already picked? Not that I'd really ask that question aloud. Not only would it be crazy talk, but it would be met with tearful protest from the minions.
There's some magical element embodied in the Pick-Your-Own produce craze that has helped generations of Americans retain the illusion that they are still in touch with their agricultural heritage ... Not that I'm cynical ... Or bitter from the simple fact I can't even grow a cactus. I'm just willing to ride the wave on my hypocritical surfboard.
Feeling the inertia of a sedentary life may be part of it, too. I dread the weight of the bushel bags we buy from the farm stand and the weight of the pressure to fill them up.We paid for a bushel after all. I also dread the task of searching for apples that are still on the trees and not laying in a fragrant but rotting carpet on the ground beneath them.
The weight of the waste weighs on me, too.
This year, to my delight, the orchard had changed its policy. The bags they provided were smaller and the apples were sold by the pound. The pressure to fill to bursting was lifted. Pick-Your-Own for the first time ceased to be the elephant sitting on the outing.
For the first time I could admit that I really do go apple picking for the Rockwell of it.
I go because I have a friend who I don't get to see as often as I'd like. I go because it's become a tradition that is simple and easy and satisfying for the five children we have between us. We go to the same place year after year because watching our children find bliss at the end of a branch while we shoot the breeze is worth its weight in gold.
It's even worth the occasional arachnid on my Apple.