I admit it: I think of apple-picking as a very autumnal sort of activity. In an ideal situation, the leaves would still be on non-fruit-bearing trees, but are vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red and purple. Everyone has a sweater on, but we shed our jackets with the exertion of picking apples. The orchard is populated, but not crowded.
Unfortunately, that was pretty much the opposite of what we got when The Boy, The Girl, Mr. C. and I went on Sunday. We trekked up to Homestead Orchard in Woodstock, a small, family-run orchard with diminutive apple trees displaying a decent mix of varieties, raspberries, honey, and that's about it. No gimmicky stuff like a petting zoo, hay ride, apple-cider donuts, etc. Just a couple who love apples and bees. That's what I like about it. It was The Boy's second time to Homestead; his sister was just a zygote when we went in the fall of 2004.
But it was too hot and too crowded. The varietals that I like best were either picked clean (Gala) or not yet ripe (Jonagold). We picked a few runty Empires. The Girl and I spent a lot of time sitting under trees, eating fallen apples that she picked up.
On the way up to the orchard, we stopped at a little place on Route 47 whose name escapes me (despite the fact that I've been there 3 of the last 4 years), to eat our picnic lunch. We splurged on baked goods (apple crisp for Mr. C., different kinds of cookies for The Boy and The Girl, and pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing for me) before going on to the orchard.