Sometimes the best time is the one you have close to home, and on a luscious fall day like last Saturday, apple picking is the perfect activity. Our daughter had spent the week immersed in a unit centered on the theme of “apples” at school, so she was primed and ready to go when I mentioned the possibility of visiting an apple orchard for a day of fresh air and apple cider.
After our daughter’s swimming lesson, we donned our jeans, sweatshirts and sunglasses and headed for Edwards Apple Orchard in Poplar Grove, IL, just across the state line. With the early fall color change approaching its peak, the drive on the back roads to Edwards was delightful. When we arrived we headed into one of the buildings to enjoy hot apple cider, apple pie and caramel apple slices. The atmosphere was delightful, sitting around tables on old milk jugs, meeting and making quick friends of the strangers who shared their table. Music was piped in from the string band playing just outside, and for a moment I was transported back to my honeymoon on Prince Edward Island, Canada, such was the beauty of the day and the friendliness of the place.
After eating our fill, we headed out to the playground where our daughter spent a great deal of time on the pirate ship, shooing off the older boys who were trying to capture all the girls on their boat. She was successful and held onto the helm of the ship for quite some time.
Next we found the wagons and started our journey to the orchard. On Saturday they were picking Red and Golden Delicious apples. I grabbed the bushel basket, and we started filling it, first with yellow apples, then with red. It didn’t take us long to fill the basket, which we hauled to the car before returning to the orchard for pony rides and a trek through the store.
The pony rides were great, less expensive than the one offered at the State Fair, and the children were allowed to ride longer. The orchard also had horse-drawn wagon rides available too. You could pick your own pumpkins and raspberries, or walk through the museum barn and even have a sandwich at the Grainery.
We purchased some apple butter and some of the famous apple cider donuts among other goodies in the store, and then we headed home, tuned into game one of the National League Division Series on WTMJ AM 620. Nothing like baseball called over a crackling AM radio station, a drive on a crisp fall day, capped off by the most delectable and WARM apple cider donuts I have tasted, all the while surrounded by the people I love.
If you have a chance to spend a fall day outside, I highly recommend the short drive across the state line to Edwards Apple Orchard, it’s great fun for kids and what better way to get your apple a day than picking it straight from the tree.
© 2011 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.