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Picking Apples

Started: 2020-11-29 15:39:07

Submitted: 2020-11-29 17:16:57

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator goes to pick apples in Watsonville

As part of my attempt to Humpty Dumpty my autumn season (as in "Humpty Dumpty had a great fall"), on the last Sunday in October I took my family to pick apples.

I started with the article Where you can pick apples in the Bay Area and Northern California during COVID-19 pandemic, then followed up with a quick Internet search. This being the First Plague Year, some of the orchards were closed or had modified their schedules, but some were operating more-or-less as normal — outside, with masks and limited capacity to support physical distancing.

We went to Clearview Organic Orchards, outside of Watsonville. To get there we took a scenic route, heading south from our house along Highland Road, past the main entrance to the Soquel Demonstration State Forest (a popular spot for mountain biking, which means I need to get a mountain bike so I can ride there), over an unnamed pass, down Eureka Canyon Road, which emerged suddenly into the town of Corralitos, where apple orchards sat next to greenhouses growing berries in the agricultural Pajaro Valley. (This was technically shorter than driving down Soquel-San Jose Road to Highway 1, but the longer route involved better roads allowing for faster travel times.)

Julian climbs an apple tree
Julian climbs an apple tree

We picked up plastic bags at the entrance to the orchard, then walked into the orchard, set on a gentle slope on a dusty hillside. Each row of trees was planted with a specific variety of apple, and as we walked through the orchard I tried to remember what variety of apple we were supposed to be looking for (according to the guide at the entrance).

Julian, Calvin, and Kiesa walk into Clearview Orchards
Julian, Calvin, and Kiesa walk into Clearview Orchards

By the time we reached the orchard, at the end of October, the orchard had been open for almost two months, and most of the apples had been picked. Only a few apples remained on the trees, and those that did had been eaten by birds or worms (or both). As I walked down the rows of trees I tried to look into the trees to find apples, but I had trouble spotting any through the leaves. I tried walking into the gaps between the trees (though this was difficult, because trees had been planted and pruned close enough that their branches interleaved with each other. I found and picked a couple of apples; and after a half-hour wandering through the orchard we decided we were done, and headed back up the hill to check out the apples we'd picked, plus more apples the orchard had already picked, plus a jug of apple cider that Kiesa used to make hot spiced apple cider.

Rows of apple trees
Rows of apple trees

Despite not finding many apples on the trees, we still had an entertaining, culturally-significant time in the apple orchard — and next year I'll know to go pick apples earlier in the season.

Julian's face in a worm in an apple
Julian's face in a worm in an apple
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