Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Apple Orchard Adventure

While applying for a job application, I pondered what to submit for the writing sample portion of the application. When Bogie overheard me telling my MIL a story from my childhood, he suggested I use that as my writing sample. I wrote up a simple 2 page short story, had him proofread it, and was quite pleased with the results (the only 2 sentences he didn't like were the ones I didn't like either).
Unfortunately, when I went onto their website to apply for the position I realized the vague directions from the newspaper ad weren't clear enough. They wanted a writing sample on how past work experiences made me a qualified candidate for the job, not a random story I could think up to show off my mad English Major skills. Their loss is your gain. My chances to write nowadays are few and far between, and even rarer the likelihood that given the time, I'll actually get something down on paper. I can't let it go to waste, so enjoy! (complete with random apple pictures I found on the interwebs.)

An apple orchard is an enchanting place to a 9 year old. Growing up in a family that struggled financially, my parents did everything possible to feed us healthy food while still hanging on to their hard earned money. Every year we grew a generously sized garden of organic fruits and vegetables. Fresh peas straight off the vine are still my favorite vegetable (only because I have been told that pumpkin pie does not count as a vegetable). My mother also canned and made her own juices, jams, and sauces. The cheapest way to acquire fresh produce (besides growing it yourself) is to buy in bulk, so when Mom wanted to make applesauce we scheduled a trip to a nearby apple orchard.
            I remember the drive up there taking a very long time, but I was anxious and excited. It was an adventure! A place I had never been, an experience I had never had; I couldn’t wait. The orchard was nestled back into the mountains, snug between two large hills. The trees were round and short, every branch sagging low like a Christmas tree bough hung with too many ornaments. Rows upon rows of apple trees stretched out across the hill, each tree the same size as the next, pruned to match. I remember thinking that with some liberal applications with white crepe paper (Yes, crepe paper. I was only 9, after all) it would be a beautiful setting for a wedding. Switch out the crepe paper for some quality decorations and I still think an apple orchard would make a quaint wedding venue.
            We were each given our own bucket and allowed to choose our own tree. I wandered among the trees imagining my dream wedding while my brother and sister started picking. An accidental tread on a mushy apple brought me back, and I squished my way to a taller tree that looked just right. We were there at the peak of the season, and most of the trees were so full of apples that it didn’t take us long to fill our buckets. 
Once Mom was satisfied and had the amount of fruit she wanted, we got to explore and play while Mom and Dad chatted with the orchard owners. I don’t remember how many apples we got that day, nor do I know how much they cost. I do remember that in wandering through the trees waiting for Mom and Dad to finish talking, I found my “X marks the spot” treasure chest of this little adventure we were on. Halfway up a plain looking tree was the biggest apple I had ever seen. It was perfectly fat and smooth, with smoky red skin and a heft like a bowling ball. It took both hands to hold it, and my hands were large for a young girl. I cradled that apple like it was Cinderella’s pumpkin, and took my treasure back to show my parents. Everyone agreed that it was the largest apple they had ever seen and even though we had already paid for our fruit, the orchard owner told me I could have it. I thanked him and admired it some more before deciding that a great find like this shouldn’t be wasted. I couldn’t very well keep it forever and in that seize-the-day way that most 9 year olds possess, I decided to eat it right then and there.

            I polished it vigorously with my sweater sleeves until it was beaming like a ruby, and then bit in. It was crisp and sweet, juicy and white, everything an apple should be. It took me about 3 times as long as a regular apple would have, but I finished that whole thing. The applesauce we made with the remainder of our harvest lasted us a long time, and it was very good applesauce. But I don’t really remember the applesauce we made, or the time it took to make it. 20 years later, however, I still remember my pumpkin apple.

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