Soon, I found myself pulling a little red wagon and traipsing through an orchard in search of tree ripened Macouns and Jonagolds. It seemed strange to be at an orchard without kids in tow and without the intent of helping out; yet, there we were, my husband and I, in search of some sun kissed apples at a strange orchard.
We had not been out there long, when an older gentleman riding a "quad" asked us if he could guide us to our destination. As we talked about Macouns and an elusive plum tree, I noticed his labored breathing, his frail face and his oxygen tank. I wondered about how he found the energy to ride around the farm; however, I also noticed his his total enjoyment sharing his farm with us and the other guests. My thoughts wandered to my brother, who like this gentleman, smiled through the pain as he spent every fall weekend, right up until his end, shuttling pickers around his wife's family orchard.
As we wandered through the enless rows of Red Delicious and Mackintosh, I noticed that we really were not alone. There were many families, young, old, of every color in the rainbow, speaking many, many languages, and going through the rows in search of the best fruit for their own tables. We guided a women determined to make an apple pie away from the Macouns toward the Cortland apples as we filled our bags and our souls with apples warm from the sun. My thoughts wandered to all the times I had spent with family in orchards over the years. I thought of pulling our wagons filled with our kids and apples. I thought of early morning drives to the farm my brother adopted, with my own children, eager "employees" who would be making donuts or shuttling guests, their "first" jobs.
We left with bellies full and bags of tree ripened fruit. We will surely have many slices of apples during the first weeks of fall. I had been apprehensive of dredging memories; however, I left with a full heart and an awarness of the power of sharing "small bits" (slices) of what you love with others.