Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Keeping the Doctor Far, Far Away

I picked an apple this weekend.

Actually, I picked several. I'd never done that before. Pretty cool.

My close encounter with farming came courtesy of our friends the Larsens, who located an orchard in some future ex-urb called Homer Glen, which sounds like the real name of a relief pitcher who goes by the name "Slick." The giant suburban houses with the mammoth lawns and the artificial lakes are just the other side of the fence; in any other neighborhood, the orchard would be a golf course. In fact, it's not really accurate to call it an orchard. They clearly grew all manner of foodstuffs: pears, peaches, sweet corn, raspberries (which they spelled without the p), grapes, pumpkins, trees and vines and fields of every sort. (I'm just going to pretend that the chickens were there strictly for the eggs.) Of course, most of those crops had already been picked over. But there were still apples. Juicy, fresh, honest-to-goodness apples.

I will admit that I've always been a pretty urban fellow. My parents loved to hop in the car and drive for hours and hours, with no real destination in mind, which to an adolescent is like being in a rolling prison. So I've never been the kind of person who's itching to get in touch with nature.

Still, I'm only human. I like trees and mountains and starry skies and all that stuff. So when I found myself standing next to a tiny tree with little honeycrisp apples hanging from the branches, even a self-professed urbanite such as myself had to appreciate the moment.

There is something truly satisfying about plucking an apple from a tree and immediately taking a bite out of it. You can't eat a steak fresh off the cow. So we really got into the swing of things, marching up and down the rows of trees with a little wagon, tracking down the finest specimens of apples we could. It was a beautiful sunny day, we were in the middle or nature, and we weren't underpaid immigrants picking apples because it was the only way we could support our families. Life was good.

My wife and I ended up collecting 20 apples. Several fujis, a couple honeycrisps, at least one giant golden delicious. The Larsens claimed about three times as many. I believe they plan to give some as gifts; I'm guessing the rest they will serve with every meal they eat for the next three weeks. I mean, that's a lot of apples. But that's okay. We were caught up in the spirit of apples.

It was almost uncanny to click over to my friends at Slate and find a diatribe against pick-your-own-apple orchards. The worst was the comparison of the dwarf trees to fattened veal. Thanks for spoiling my fun, guys. Seriously, two days later. I expect a Slate article about blogging on Thursday.

I'm not going to let it get me down. Not anytime soon, anyway. I got out of the house. I talked to the trees. I have apples to last me through next week. I'm a nature-lovin' guy.

I'm not camping or anything, but it's a start.