The sky is a perfect cerulean blue, there is a hint of chilliness in the air and if you listen hard enough you can almost hear the screeching death wail of summer. It’s finally time. Time to go apple picking! Because you promised yourself you would give the kids less stuff and more experiences. Which you didn’t actually mean but then made the mistake of mentioning it to them after your second glass of wine last night and they have NOT forgotten.
The first thing you’ll want to do is get an early start. Because everyone else has also decided today is the perfect day for apple picking. And no, it doesn’t matter what day you pick. It’s always that day.
Of course, this means gently herding everyone out of the house. And when that fails three times, screaming at everyone to hurry the hell up and get into the goddamn van. Which they will absolutely do after three trips to the bathroom, a meltdown over a weird sock bump and a fruitless argument about how many stuffies everyone is allowed to bring (in theory none, in practice three each).
Now, no family-friendly fun-filled trip to the apple orchard is complete without a scenic drive down some picturesque roads. Try to remember this beauty and wholesome moment together as you finally arrive and immediately get into the Parental Parking Lot Fight. Because the driveway is right there. Right THER…well, you passed it. No, that’s the exit. Turn LEFT! Right THERE. See the sign! No, to the LEFT. Not that parking lot, it clearly says birthday party parking, the OTHER one.
Don’t worry though. Any lingering anger over parking (and then getting out and then getting back in and parking again because you were wrong, it WAS the birthday party parking lot you were supposed to go to, not that you’ll ever admit you were wrong, the signs are stupid and confusing), will eventually dissipate when you head to the cashier and the Sticker Shock sets in. Because it IS that much. And no, it doesn’t include that. Or that. Those are separate tickets.
But hey, you made it! It’s important to note here that the first ten minutes of apple picking is the Actual Genuine Fun Window. Savor this. Even when something in a hay bale bites your butt, ignore it because the kids are literally full of joy right now and running around in nature, squealing with delight in the fresh air. It’s downright magical. This is the time to take 600 almost identical photos.
Soon however, you’ll notice how hot it is. It’s really hot. Stupid hot. Because every year you think September will feel like fall but it never does. Why did you wear a sweater? And why is this orchard so big? Oh, and look, somehow your youngest pulled off an entire branch of an apple tree even though she is the size of a pixie and you could yeet her over to the pear tree section if so inclined. And you don’t even know where your other kid is.
This is when you’ll remember you saw a hard cider tent on the brochure.
In total, there will be no less than five sibling fights, three tantrums and one dramatic storming off (before said stormer realizes there is nowhere to storm off to in this godforsaken Land of Endless Apples). Feel free to get creative with your hissed threats. As in “I swear to god if you little gobshites don’t knock it off we will sell you to the farmer and he will use you as scarecrows.” And don’t worry if anyone else hears you. They will be too busy threatening their own kids.
After lugging a gigantic bag of apples around (one bushel being the equivalent of 780 apples) there is nothing you’ll want to do more than rest and have a hard cider. Which is why next on your agenda is going through the mazes! All three of them! None of which are anywhere close to you or close to each other.
The first maze will take forever, which is why when you end up coming out the entrance you accept victory because at one point you did have a fairly legitimate fear you would die in there.
Luckily the second maze is kids-only. Make sure to stand in the hot sun next to the super chill parents that use phrases like “it’s such luxury garbage” so that you and your partner can bond over how much you hate these other parents while you wait.
Time for an apple cider donut break! Which you’ll awkwardly eat standing up on exhausted legs after standing in a 20 minute line because one of the kids saw a bee over by the picnic tables and refuses to get within ten feet of them now. But the good news is the hard cider tent is also nowhere near the apple cider donut stand.
After fighting over caramel apples (because you are NOT getting back in that line) and pulling the youngest out of the goat pen that she somehow managed to get inside of, you will be ready to pack it up and call it a day. Once you find your other kid.
Oop, but you forgot about the third maze and you PROMISED. And yes, the third maze is in the complete opposite direction of the parking lot. On the plus side, you will be only the second loudest arguing family in the maze, the first being the one led by Nate, as in “Dammit Nate, how do you keep finding every single dead end!?” If you make it out alive, you’ll hope to befriend these people who are just as miserable as you.
It goes without saying but the hard cider tent is also not inside this maze.
Finally it’s time to head home. After buying two gigantic pumpkins PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE that you’ll have to lug all the away across the parking lot because you just don’t have any fight left in you.
As you drive away, you will finally see the hard cider tent. You give it a sad little wave and head off into the sunset, on your way back home where you will look up apple pie recipes that you never actually intend to make.