the quickest way to my heart...

...is through an apple orchard on a crisp fall day. There was finally a chill in the air today--cool enough to allow me to flirt heavily with the idea of donning a long-sleeved cardigan and shimmying up some trees in search of the perfect apple.

A friend also had the day free from work, so he and I headed off to the orchard. The Eau Claire Orchard is closest to us, offers the most kitsch (think...apple slinging, corn maze) and allows you to pick your own straight from the tree. Naturally it was our orchard of choice. As we pulled up, a cheery sign greeted us, "Pick your own Honeycrisp apples!". Love Honeycrisp, love picking my own. Love life.

But, oh, how quickly the tables turned when we stepped inside the barn and up to the counter to pay for the peck we were hoping to pick. It went a little something...like this:

Me: Hi, there...how are you?
Employee: Good. Are you ready to check out?
Me: We're actually looking to pick our own, today.
Employee: Umm...yeah.Me: Hmm? Is that okay?Employee: (Exasperated sigh.) Everyone always comes in wanting to pick their own. It's like--I have a whole store here of perfectly picked apples. And then they whine and complain that there's nothing out on the trees, cause they only want to walk about two rows in. It's like, no. Everything's picked over because it was just the weekend. Come back on Saturday...(Tirade continues.)
Me: (Meekly shrinking away from the counter.) We'll...go somewhere else...

I moved quickly for the door, all the while trying desperately not to meet my pal's glances for fear that I would come unglued and LOSE IT right there in that seemingly sweet little autumnal barn.

The two of us...barely made it out alive. The second we burst through the doors, he and I ERUPTED with giggles, impressions and what-we-should-have-said-isms. His response was by far my favorite: "Hmm. Didn't know life on the apple orchard could be so darn tough..."

We spent the next two hours driving through the back hills, stopping so I could snap photos of picturesque pastures and popping in to various orchards to see if they allowed self-pick...to no absolutely avail. A friendly woman turned us on to a little orchard called Nibbletts (Nibbletts. For real. And yes...I giggled at that, too.) where pick-your-own is the only way, but unfortunately they were closed for the day.

Regardless, it was a wonderful day that will not soon be forgotten...but I can't help but feel slightly disappointed at the day's lack of apple picking. Is picking your own apples really that taboo? I have so many memories of trips to the orchard as a child, but is it becoming a thing of the past...something my (very, very future) children will never, ever believe we paid to do?


  1. Hahaha - not sure why you left though. I mean, if they had a whole store...

  2. lol...so true...who goes to an orchid & not want to pick apples? you might at well just go to the supermarket if you don't want to pick your own!

  3. what a fun day. your pictures are great. my daughter lives in 'the cities' and she has a spot where they went last season to do some picking.....

  4. I love your pictures in this post. And I have been there, last fall me and some friends wanted to pick our own apples and we went to some place in Eau Claire and the lady told us, and I quote "there will be no picking today" but we desperatly wanted orchird fresh apples so we just bought them, so boring. You should come to MN on a nice fall weekend and come pick apples, there are hay rides into the orchird and all sorts of fun activites, you can make a day of it and it's a blast.

  5. looks beautiful out there! we're barely getting out of the triple digit heat, so any hankerings i might have for fall will just have to wait. :D

  6. customer service is just not what it used to be! :) i can't remember which orchard i usually went to when i lived in eau claire, but they were always pretty nice...

    i have been having a hankering to go pick apples myself. writing it on my list!

    beautiful photos!

  7. what a cute post! Nice photos too. It may be a drive but we like to go to Afron Orchard right on the other side of the border in MN. They let you pick- they even give you a bag and a ride! That is a beautiful area- there are lots of orchards and lots of photo op's on the winding roads.Good luck!

  8. One of my favorite things to do in October, can't wait!

  9. Oh yes, we are all about an autumn trip to the orchard. My little guy's preschool has a field trip coming up and I am way more excited than he is! We get to go for a haywagon ride through the apple orchard and out to the pumpkin patch (pick-your-own at both spots!) and then to the barn for hot apple cider and apple crumble. Festive, fall heaven, non?!

    (if you're ever up here in Victoria, I'll take you... you'll love it! and they definitely won't kick you out for wanting to pick your own!)

  10. Wow. I didn't know apple orchard working was the life of the hard knocks. Whatevs.

    There is a great place around here called Shady Brooke if you ever happen to be in the Philadelphia/ Bucks Co. area. They won't sass you about picking your own ;)


  11. PS... I'm glad you made the most of the day anyway. Way to turn lemons (or should I say rotten apples) into lemonade.

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  13. gotta love the over worked apple farmer =)
    Its funny how it is such a different Fall out here in CO. We just spent last Saturday in Aspen seeing the "fall colors" by that I mean gold. Its beautiful, just a different beatiful then WI colorful fall.

  14. Love orchards.

    Sometimes don't love people.

    Especially cranksters. Boo on that guy.

  15. do you think that perhaps young salesperson was on a apple-already-picked commission? hummmm might have explained everything. what does make me giggle is that here i am worried as i look for a light job to help suppliment things (barista) and worry that i am going up against the 18-20 yr olds. this little story puts in the mind that i still have a lot to offer. and as you go off to campus or to see the band with your washingtonian friend, just you remember that too

  16. I agree with everyone else - beautiful photos!

    Also wanted to let you know I've borrowed your Orcharding picture for my post here: http://desiloufreebush.blogspot.com/2009/10/reason-to-love-internet-orcharding.html

    Thanks for sharing your great thoughts and pictures with the world!


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