"OK, honey, please be careful…gentle…gentle…gentle!" I chanted, the pitch of my voice raising with each repetition―as the Kid pulled apples down from the trees at
Vertacnik Orchard, 1403 E. 1850 Rd., a few weekends ago. He was doing a great job of twisting the fruits off the trees, but the urge to slam dunk them into our picking basket was more than his 2-year-old little boy hands could bear.
"We'll make those into pies," Sweet Husband comforted me with a wave of his hand. I tried to let it go, and instead thought back to that same orchard three years before.
I was five months pregnant. When my midwife asked if I'd been having any cravings, I guiltily told her, "I just can't seem to get enough apples." She chuckled. I think she was more used to hearing pregnant women confess to secret midnight binges on cookies and ice cream. After all, who―when reasonably allowed to eat whatever they want―ends up craving one of the healthiest foods there is?
With our midwife's blessing, Sweet Husband and I visited the Vertacnik Orchard about three times that fall. I think I may have eaten 20 pounds of apples. By the last trip, Dave Vertacnik, the owner and one of Sweet Husband's old art school professors from KU days, greeted us with only an amazed, "Back again?!"
Some children are composed of bones and blood, but the Kid is made of Jonagolds and Galas.
Given that history, taking the Kid apple picking each year is important to me, even when he's more interested in pretending to be Cole Aldrich than actually collecting fruit.
Luckily, it's an easy field trip to sneak in amidst a busy weekend. A large bucket of apples takes almost no time to collect, so even with some dawdling and picture-taking and toddler-wrangling, we're usually done in less than 45 minutes. With the beautiful fall weather we typically get in late September and early October, it's a hard to beat for a family outing.
While the Vertacnik Orchard is only open on the weekends, Fieldstone Orchard in Overbrook, is only a 45-minute drive and is open during the week, too. Both orchards allow you to pick your own apples or buy them already picked. Both orchards will also be featured on the Kaw Valley Farm Tour on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6, and, according to Vertacnik, there will still be plenty of apples to be picked that weekend and beyond.
While I probably will abstain from eating 20 pounds by myself this year, I, of course, had to eat enough of our fresh-picked apples to test them out for you all. After thorough sampling I can tell you, you need to go get yourself some of these apples right away!