Monday, September 29, 2008

A little help here, please

We’ve been in Michigan three years but I still feel like such a newbie, especially when we do something so very Michigan-y like we did this weekend.

On Saturday the kids and I went to an apple orchard where we picked our own apples. We’ve gone to apple orchards before but the apples were pre-picked (the way I like them, to be honest) and (again to be honest) we really went for the cider and doughnuts. This orchard had cider and doughnuts, too, and they had apples, of course, but we had to go pick them off the trees.

The orchard worker handed us a sturdy plastic bag and rake-like picker thing, collected our money, told us we could take as many apples as we could fit into our bag and sent us off to gather our choice of apples.

As soon as we got to the trees, we noticed a few people were eating apples.

I was a little amazed, and my kids were as well. (They’ve heard my grapes spiel at Kroger too many times: “We don’t eat the grapes until we’ve bought the grapes.”) We silently sent glances to each other, the kids hoping I’d say, “Go ahead and eat some apples,” while I hoped they would remember the grape lecture. My mental telepathy skills didn’t work so I spelled out why we wouldn’t eat the apples: We paid for a bag of apples. If we ate some apples, then filled our bag full, the orchard would be cheated out of payment for the apples we ate while picking.

We overheard some people saying, “Everyone eats apples when they pick them,” so I did let the kids eat one apple apiece - yes, I succumbed to peer pressure. But I left room in the bag to account for the apples they ate.

And that incident got me wondering if I was right in my assessment or was I a few apples short of a bushel? But no amount of mental wrangling could allow me to think eating those apples wasn’t stealing. Would anyone dream of doing the same thing in the apple section at Meijer?

Does that analogy miss the mark? Am I being too legalistic? Is that just something that happens at you-pick orchards and I missed the memo? I am seriously looking for feedback on this one.

By the way, the apple cake I made last night was pretty good. But I’m trying another recipe today because, holy cow, we brought home a LOT of apples.

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PS: If you were one of the apple eaters, please know I still think the world of you; I'm just going to be really careful the next time you're near my pantry...