Although our family lives in Michigan, our kids actually attend school in Indiana, and for them school starts in less than a week. Some years that early start date is a blessing. Some years we covet Michigan’s tourism law, which mandates no school until after Labor Day. This year, we’re divided. My youngest two are all aflutter about school supplies and which friends they’ll have in their homerooms, but my oldest are facing the two extremes of high school—freshman year for our daughter and senior year for our son. The start of this school year means we are that much closer to big changes for each of them. For just this week, though, we’ll pretend it’s the same as any other year and fall into our family’s back to school traditions.
Each fall we go apple picking with Grandma. We love one particular spot up in Michigan where the farmer gives families a ride through his orchard, pointing out the Paula Red, the Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp, and Galas. He warns us that the Red Delicious aren’t ready yet—but we already know that ‘cuz we come the same time each year. Then he dumps us out among the trees with our bushels. There’s something to be said for finding your very own apple, still hanging plump and perfect until you pluck it. There’s a certain ceremony in the way you rub it on your shirt (because we all know that gets the germs off) and take that first juicy bite. Even better is the debate on the tractor ride back while we pass around our apples, extolling their virtues.
My favorite part of apple picking comes after we get home. The little girls wash and dry the best of the bunch while Katie and I melt the caramel. Then we dip and roll. What we roll in varies according to the ages and interests of the kids—one year it was white chocolate chips (yum!), another year purple and pink pastilles (not so yum). The best year was when Chris suggested we roll them in crushed Oreos and attach a few gummi worms. I was resistant—our announced purpose is to make teacher gifts for the first day of school, but having learned from the process versus product philosophy (see last month’s blog “The Journey”), I agreed. My kids assured me it was great fun to watch the look on the teachers’ faces as they unwrapped their wormy treats.
This year we’re going to make a pie, too. It’ll give us a reason to ignore the back to school shopping for one more day. And hopefully Chris won’t suggest we add any worms.
A few of our favorite apple related books:
An amazingly beautiful book about a young Muslim immigrant’s first few days in her new American school. A field trip to the apple orchard helps her see that life isn’t all that different in her new country.
A funny story of a pioneer family. And fruit.
How about you? What are your favorite back to school rituals? Got any great apple pie recipes?