Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day 297

Today started off great (helping cute, cooperative kids make whole-grain pancakes and art, lots of snugs) and ended badly. Those who witnessed the drama at a certain birthday party know what I'm talking about. And it didn't get better at home. 

But now the house is quiet and I'm able to piece together some perspective. It helps to think of yesterday: our annual apple-picking chili "cook-off" fest.

Backstory: My family has an awesome tradition of apple picking - I actually wrote about it for EatingWell a few years ago - which inspired me and Jon to start our own apple-picking tradition with our family, here in Vermont. Before we had kids. 

Here's how it's been going, for the last six or so years: A bunch of us hop in cars mid-morning and caravan to the islands. Our first stop is Allenholm, where we visit the yak that isn't (just this year, we discovered that it was a Scotland Highland) and hang out with the horses and donkeys while we wait for the tractor that will drive us back to the orchards. In the rows of trees, we pick for 10 minutes or so - Cortlands for us, and I pretend they're organic (they're not) - and then settle in on blankets to feast on wine, cheese, peanut butter, from a big plastic tub that Nate always brings, and, of course, apples. (We skipped the picnic this year: it was a rainy day.) Then, in a progressive dinner of sorts, we walk down the road to Hackett's for course number two: cider and cider donuts. There, we pick out pumpkins and mums and, when it's not wet, play on the on-site playground before loading back up for Burlington.

Later we gather at someone's house - this year, Chris and Ri's - for chili (several kinds, as it's sort of a "contest") and baked goods: apple crisp and apple pie, a la mode (except for Jon). I make the pastry part and everyone chips in peeling and chopping apples for the fillings. 

I cannot put into words how much this annual tradition means to me - at least not tonight (I'm fried). But the pictures below do a pretty good job of capturing it.  xoxo 

When I look at this photo, I can't help but think about how my 2009 essay in EatingWell talks about how I hope Julian will someday pick apples with a little sib. This almost makes me teary. 
Ri and Lauren sipping cider (or coffee?)
"I picked it!" (Kai was so proud of himself.)
Silly faces. (Kai was too obsessed with drinking "warm" chocolate through a straw to participate.) We missed Chris and Mikey, who were at a football game, this year.
"Really, ignorant humans: you all thought I was a yak?"
First pie of the year before it went in the oven. (Missed the shot after it came out.)
"I want that one."
The wig was a new touch for 2012. Will it stick? Only time will tell. 

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