Sunday, August 26, 2007

pretending to be comfortable with nature

Add this to the list of things that are fun to do so long as you don't have to actually do them for a living: today, Joe and I took Cal to Alstede Farm to go peach picking. We almost didn't go, since it's an hour drive into New Jersey and the weather forecast called for rain, but in the end, we decided to just take the risk. It turned out to be a good choice, since it hardly rained at all, and we were practically the only people there. Which meant more peaches for us.

If you live in the tri-state area, I highly recommend this place. Basically, it's this giant farm with fruit orchards and vegetable patches that you can visit year-round and plunder. It's free to go visit the farm and pet the animals, and you just pay for whatever fruit and vegetables you pick. They have a farmer's market on site too, in case you don't want to actually do the work.

Here's me consulting the map, trying to figure out our plan of attack. Certain fruits and vegetables are in season different months of the year, so I was trying to plot which rows of the orchard we were going to hit.

Ah yes, also I should mention that there was a giant pyramid of hay for the kids to play on. Why a pyramid of hay? Much like the Sphinx, it is a mystery.

The above picture is just to show that we were wallowing in NATURE. See, natural. Being close to so much biology made me a little nervous (so much mud and animal poop and bugs, dear lord, the bugs), but I figured it was somehow enriching for The Boy, who is normally so City Mouse that he gets confused when placed on grassy surfaces or other things non-concrete.

They provided these little red wagons for our convenience, but this one was practically our undoing. Cal insisted on pulling it by himself all the way to the peach trees, which was probably half a mile from the entrance and partly uphill. And he spurned all offers of help from the stronger members of the party, which means that we were moving through the orchard at a speed approximately that between that of a dead snail and a slug going backwards.

Thankfully, we reached the peach trees before nightfall. Who knew that peaches grew in New Jersey? Who knew that anything grew in New Jersey? Most of the trees near the aisles were picked clean of mature fruit, but just a couple hundred feet deeper in, there were insane numbers of peaches just dangling in front of our faces.

Probably the mistake that most people make is that they end up buying too much fruit. It was so exciting picking our own peaches, though, and there were so many nice ones, that we could literally not resist. If anyone wants a dozen free peaches, let me know. Although you may not want them anymore once you see them. For some reason, by the time we got home, the peaches started cannibalizing themselves and all the spots where they were touching each other in the carton had gone soft and discolored. I blame ethane. (Edited to add: my intelligent readers have spoken! The actual culprit is not ethane, but ethylene. I was off by a double bond. Blast.) Joe's mom says we should make peach cobbler, but that is probably beyond the level of domesticity that I could plausibly achieve.

Oh yeah, there were berry patches too. I didn't take as many pictures of the berry-picking because I had my hands full, picking berries as fast as I could so that I could cram them into Cal's gaping maw. It was the only way that I could prevent him from eating all the berries off the floor, or hurling himself into the brambles. Who knew that he liked blackberries so much? Or that blackberry bushes were so pointy? So many lessons learned.