Has anyone picked and eaten apples freshly picked from the branches of trees in an orchard before?
I am very happy to say I had the opportunity to pick apples recently in a family run farm in the country. I had not had the opportunity to pick apples in many years. I had not been able to go since I went completely blind instantly due to a very critical illness. Most apple orchards are in the country. Being completely blind and living in a residential area of a city I cannot get to the country too easily not being able to drive myself anymore since going blind. Public transit agencies are not available in non-developed areas where I live, so this method of getting to the orchards was out.
Anticipation; I Get to Go!
I was very much looking forward to visiting Gizdich Ranch again.
My wife and I had been to this ranch many times in past when I could drive. This was one of our favorite weekend getaways when I could drive. My wife does not drive longer distances, so now that I cannot drive these getaways are not possible as often without some special planning.
Just because I can no longer see anything and need to walk with two canes to get around safely I was not going to let this challenge stop me from this experience. I was determined to experience the pleasure of picking apples with family members in the country in the warm sun with the fresh air blowing.
Time to Prepare for Fun
We had eleven family members ages 11 to 89 going on our apple picking adventure. We all met at one location not far from where I live. We had lunch and loaded up three vehicles with all of our gear we might need for our days journey. We brought boxes and canvas bags to carry our natures treasures back home. On our way everyone’s spirits were high. You could feel the enjoyment in the air. My great niece delighted us in the vehicle I was riding in with her delightful singing as we drove over the hills to get to our destination.
Arrival at Our Destination
As soon as we drove into the area where the apple trees seemed to sprawl in all directions we found a convenient place to park. We found a perfect location in a dirt turn out next to an orchard easily accessible to all. We all piled out of the vehicles with anticipation. I instantly felt the warm sun hit my face and I smiled widely. I thought what perfect weather we were blessed with for our trip. The orchards were close to the ocean and the breeze kept the temperature down to keep us all comfortable throughout most of our day. The air smelled so fresh with slight fragrances of trees, wildflowers and other pleasant smells of nature.
I could not see a thing as I stood there taking in my new environment in the country. I imagined all the trees surrounding me sprawling into the distance as far as I could see. I also imagined seeing the rolling hills beyond the apple orchards with country farm houses spotting the hillsides. I also wished I lived-in one of the peaceful looking houses I could see in my minds eye.
Ready to Pick Apples
I thought it would be hard to find the apples on the trees when contemplating how I would pick apples without sight prior to trip. I found out quickly it is much more difficult to find the actual apple trees than an apple on the tree. Luckily there was lots of trees inn this orchard. The trees were in rows separated by a larger distance. In the rows the trees were evenly spaced with branches sprawling out almost touching the tree next to it. This made it very easy to check the branches and go from tree to tree down the row you were in without sight. I did not even need my long canes, since I had contact with the trees at all times as I moved from branch to branch and tree to tree within row I was in. Once I found a tree in one of these rows; with help from my wife; I would then start exploring the branches for the delicious juicy fruit I so much desired. I made sure I had my sunglasses on for sure protecting my eyes from the branches that would gently poke me from time to time. I would feel up and down the branches until I found an apple. Usually I would find a whole group of apples, when I would find one. Most of the apples were low enough you could reach from ground level without needing to climb up on anything. After finding the apple I would check to see if the apple was big enough to my liking. I would feel around the apple looking for holes or imperfections which might mean the apple was bad. I learned that the pippins were more rounded and had very smooth skinned. The pippins also seemed to have a firmer touch to them. The red delicious were the standard apple shape, slightly narrower at the bottom and as you worked your way up the apple it would get wider towards the top. The golden delicious were the standard apple shape, but the skin texture was slightly ruff in places compared to the red delicious. To tell if the apple might be ripe I would lightly pull down on the apple giving it a slight twist. If it would release into my hand freely it would verify that I had selected a ripe apple. When I picked my first apple I could not wait to taste it. I wiped off the apple and bit into it. The apple snapped loudly and the juices seemed to blast from it. The apple was extremely fresh, crispy and juicy as I chewed it. I think I was smiling the complete time I was eating the apple it tasted so good, fresh and juicy. Before I realized it I had eaten the complete apple and found another ripe apple using the same technique I had taught myself when exploring the first apple tree and finding my first good apple. After picking my next sun ripen treat from tree I gently placed into my canvas bag and started the process of searching for my next treasure. Each time I would move to another type of apple I had to eat one to taste its differences from the last variety. By the time I had finished picking apples for the day I had sampled all three varieties. All were very, very good.
All Done Picking; But Not With the Fun
Soon we all had our many bags full and apple picking time was over. With all the excitement and fun it is easy to pick more apples than you planned on. Now that we were done with apple picking we needed a rest from hiking up and down the hills in the orchard. We thought a refreshing piece of fresh pie and apple juice slush would be nice. We all went to a barn on the property where they served pies, drinks and other delights. I had a slice of oallieberry pie that was extremely delicious. It was a hot day and walking through the soft soil up and down the hills made all of us very thirsty and our treats were a great satisfaction. AT this orchard they also grow strawberries, oallieberries, raspberries as well as the apples we picked. Might think this was the end of the fun? Not yet. We purchased a couple of pies to go and went out to dinner and celebrated my wife's parent’s 64th wedding anniversary. MY wife's parents had a very good day on their anniversary; as well as all of us; including me for sure!! I was able to accomplish another first as a blind person; picking apples without sight. Very fun for sure. I would highly recommend picking and eating fresh apples if you can.
Wheel chair users who are confined to their chairs at all times might have a hard time picking apples because of the loose soil getting to the trees. In the place we visited you could purchase the fruit already picked if you cannot pick yourself: so I would not let access issues to the apple orchards stop you. I think wheel chair users who are confined to their chairs might be able to pick oallieberries and raspberries in season, these hang much lower and are planted in much more condensed soil on the paths between the plants in the orchard I visited on this trip. Strawberries you need to be on your hands and knees to pick. Hope you can give picking fresh fruit on a family run ranch a try. .
Some tips to make your apple picking trip easier
•Wear sturdy and comfortable walking shoes. You might be walking on uneven surfaces in loose soil.
• If you are blind or visually impaired wear sunglasses for protection from branches and sun. Do not want any branches to poke you in the eye picking apples.
• Bring a large canvas bag with handles to put apples in when picking. Canvas bags are sturdy and will not break and are easy to carry.
• Bring any medications, snacks and water you might need.
Can anyone else offer any guidance for those who want to try some recreational activities? Any questions? Has anyone been to any other place you enjoyed you want to share?
Read about my last trip with other traveling suggestions at a blog post I did recently called Vacationing with a Disability.
Look forward to hearing from you. I am sure others do want to hear your thoughts and ideas as well!
Global Dialogue Center