Sunday, September 25, 2011

An afternoon at Whistling Well

Reader, if the words "Sunday afternoon" and "autumn" and "apple orchard" went together any better, they'd, like, rhyme - or at least alliterate more than 80 percent.  Visiting an apple orchard is far from an annual activity for me.  I've run a race in one with my mom (very fun!) but I can't remember ever actually picking apples at one.  Until today!

The weather was perfect for late September:

Cold enough for a sweater...
...and warm enough for sandals!


I set out for this expedition with my friend Sara.  Because our schedules rarely coincide neatly, our activities tend to be of the movie-watching, tea-drinking, and neighborhood-walking variety around town.  Earlier in the week, we realized that we both had Sunday afternoon seriously open for adventure.  To the eastern metro we went!  Our destination: Afton.  More specifically, the St. Croix Trail, which is loaded with orchards!

Here is a good example of why Sara is great.  Just up the road from the orchard, we passed a baseball field with something that looked out of the ordinary taking place on it.  "What's that?" she said. "It looks, like, Civil War baseball players?" I ventured.  We kept driving.  A minute later, Sara said, "Should we turn around?" and I said, "Yes."

We pulled into the field's parking lot, and I was content to just watch the strange scene of a Civil War-era baseball reenactment unfolding.  But Sara noticed one of the players still getting ready at his car, which was next to ours.  She cranked down her window.

"Excuse me...what is this?!" Sara asked him, and I burst out laughing.
"It's 1860s baseball," the man explained. "You should stay and watch!"
He turned around and started walking to the field.
"We're going to the apple orchard!" Sara exclaimed.
He turned around. "What?"
"We're going to the apple orchard!  But maybe we'll come back to watch afterward."

We continued onward until we reached our destination. 
Its specialties: apples, fall mums, and pumpkins.  Lots of pumpkins. Lots of apples.  Lots of squash, too.  I obviously wasn't keeping a good eye out for fall mums.

We got our bags and learned that each peck (10 pounds of apples) cost $18.  If you are seeking context, rest assured that my scientific analysis proves that 10 pounds is technically an enormous amount of apples.  We headed merrily down the trail toward the rows of Haralson and Honey Crisp trees.  Sara, being a veteran of farms and this kind of stuff, took the lead.  She dove into the trees and started picking. 

I caught up.  By the end, we both had full bags of apples.
Of course, the apples were beautiful. 

My only regret is that we didn't take one of the red wagons.  This one seemed to be abandoned.

Back at the apple shack - no, the right word is probably the barn - we checked out the farm animals (goats, chickens and a donkey) and the pumpkin supply, which was plentiful.
Sara and I even asked a kind young mother if she would take our photo.  We walked up from behind and Sara called dibs on the pumpkin really quickly

It was a perfecto afternoon.  Twin Cities readers: if you remotely like apples, the outdoors, farms, or fun things, I highly recommend this region of apple orchards.  Ours was Whistling Well Farm, but you can see on the map that there are four or five orchards in very close proximity - and it's all just half an hour away.  We used our interest in procuring caramel apples as an excuse to check out another orchard, and it was fun to see the different character and vibe of that farm.

And yes, you'd better believe that we took our caramel apples and apple cider and hightailed it back to the baseball game.  We watched the last couple of innings and got to see the team captains each perform rousing speeches about the great game of baseball after the last out was recorded.  There were some confusing parts - apparently, in 1860s baseball, you can let the ball bounce on the ground and still count it as an out without throwing to first base - and I sure don't remember who won.  But the guys - and were they ever a motley mix - were having a blast!  We Sara talked with one of the spectators next to us and learned that this game was the last in an occasional matchup through the summer.  Sometimes the best adventures are detours, no?

As soon as I got home, I assessed the apples.  I peeled them and then chopped them up.  We all know where this is going, right?


Hint: it smells like apple crisp in here!  Happy Sunday night!


  1. We're going to the orchard!!

    -your partner in crime

  2. The jealousy is positively ooooozing from my apple-orchard-adventure-wanting pores...maybe we could find one in a month?!