When a Bagful of Apples Is Just Enough

Ever have one of those days where everything seems to be aligned? If only for a fleeting moment, the sun is out, the trees are blazing autumn, “Firework” is blaring on the car radio, your sunroof is open, and all is well?

I was driving up I95 to Bar Harbor, Maine last week on a day like that, on my way to literally 15 meetings over three days. But even though I had long hours around conference tables in front of me, the windows were down, the air was full of damp earth and crisp leaves, and I was biting into this amazing peach from an orchard we had visited the day before.

All was well.

That Sunday, I had worked much of the day prepping for the trip, but I told my 16-year-old son D. that we were having Forced Family Fun, FFF, whether he liked it or not. We were going apple picking.

He groaned and said, “It’s my only day off from football this week…seriously?”

I said, “It won’t kill you.”

And he said, “It just might.”

So I replied, “Well, if it does, I will give you a really nice funeral.”

It was with this great feeling of expectation that we took our empty bags and headed off for the acres and acres of apples. We tried a number of different varieties, liking the tartness and crispness of some more than others, and starting to fill our bags. As we walked up and down the rows of trees looking for Macouns to add to our collection, D. started picking apples and tossing them high in the air.

When he missed, and one thumped painfully on the ground, I’d say, in my most knowing voice, “D., you’re wasting apples. Pick up a drop and use that instead.”

And he’d give me a look like, “Seriously, Mom? Do you see that there are 5,000 apples on the ground and it’s the end of the season and no one is going to want that particular one anyway?”

But after about the fourth round or so, he picked an apple up off the ground just to humor me, and started tossing that instead. And now and then he’d pull his iPhone from his pocket to see who was texting him. Was it ESPN with the latest NFL score, or some nameless friend at school?

Still, we picked apples. And we ate a lot, until we couldn’t eat any more. And even though there were heavy grey clouds in the sky that day, the rain held off until we paid $27 for our three bags of apples and peaches and one pint of homemade cider for D.

We ended up with more than one sinkful, which I dutifully sprayed with organic fruit wash, feeling quite accomplished. And it was like a little surprise after that every time one of us would go get an apple from the fruit bowl—would it be Gala? Honey Crisp? Cortland?

So all of that is what took me to this particular Monday.

That even though I was tired from having worked almost an entire Sunday; even though my favorite uncle had passed away in California where I couldn’t go to his funeral; even though I couldn’t go to visit my dad in the nursing home that weekend because of the traffic going to some silly race at the track; even though D. doesn’t really want to hang out with me much anymore; even though I am supposed to be going on vacation to the Grand Canyon, and it’s apparently closed; still, I was satisfied.

For some reason, in that moment, I could believe that all of the changes and the getting older and the hard work and the conflict and even the grief are all part of some serendipity that I don’t always understand.

And so for that moment, I could be content. Content, just driving up the highway with a tankful of gas, and one very sweet peach.