Last Friday was my daughter’s last day of preschool until it returns in September, and I picked her up feeling like we should mark the occasion. Unfortunately, I had to run a rather boring errand at the hardware store. It’s a testament to my cute, little Oregonian mountain town that even our friendly neighborhood hardware store has a nice shady lawn, and Edie was having a blast playing on it. In order to both honor her last day of school and to get her into the car without a nuclear meltdown, I promised we could go to the park before heading home.
Feeling lazy, I figured we could just run by the little park on the way home to run around in the grass, as there’s not much else to do there. I don’t know for sure, but my hunch is that this park used to be private property back in the day, because there are several old apple and pear trees in the park. So I unbuckle her from the carseat, and her first question is, “Where duckpond go?”
Busted. The duckpond is at another park, Lithia Park, the large gem nestled between the hills downtown. I panicked, not knowing what to say. But then, as we started walking through the grass, I saw some lovely little green apples hanging in the branches.
It seemed a little early to me for apples, seeing as how we’re still in full peach throttle here, but I grabbed a low-hanging one and bit. And lucky me, it was good! Edie’s curiosity was piqued—she had to try one.
We wandered through the park barefoot, taste-testing each tree as we went by, discovering which were ready and which weren’t yet. My guess is that the city doesn’t want to encourage too much aggressive harvesting, so they keep the park pretty trim. All the really big, good apples are well out of reach. So mama had to go up into the branches while little one sat in the grass and ate foraged ones that had fallen. She giggled at me and told me, “Careful, Mommy!” But while climbing trees is easy and fun for me, when you’re actually going for fruit, it’s much more difficult.
The good stuff is high and far out in the foliage, meaning it’s nearly impossible to get to it from the strong inner branches. This is why humans invented ladders. Duh. But I challenged myself using leverage, strong hand grips, and all four limbs to reach places that were hard to reach. I still couldn’t reach the best stuff, but I came down with two pocketfuls of delicious green apples. I’m not sure what types of apples these are, but they are small, sweet-tart, and surprisingly fibrous. In other words, we’re not in Safeway’s produce aisle anymore.
We laid in the grass. We chased each other. She kept pointing out all the deer poop, no longer in little pellets from their usual dry, summer feed, but almost cow-like with all the extra liquid the apples provide. I folded up the bottom of my shirt to make a hammock of sorts to carry the extra apples home for Daddy to enjoy.
The next day, we went to Lithia Park to play by the duckpond. Edie said, “Where apples go?”