There are few things that lift my spirits more than wandering outdoors on a crisp-yet-sunny autumn day. We met our extended family at Baker Farm in Ransomville, New York and spent the morning picking Crispins, Cortlands, Macouns, and Golden Supremes. My aunt wanted updated photos of her grandkids, so it was the perfect occasion to catch everyone in a happy state. Our kids (six girls, five boys, all second-cousins) laughed and played in the rows of trees. Madeline lifted Ella onto her shoulders to pluck the ripe, out-of-reach fruit. Ruby climbed in and out of the wagon. The boys packed our draw-string farm bags full with their collections.
I see my own cousins about twice a year, when we make the drive from Michigan to upstate New York where my parents were both born and raised. Sometimes, like this day when we are together, I think about how quickly we ourselves have evolved into mothers and fathers of these wild and beautiful children. We once played so carefreely, just like they do now with each other! I love these people who remind me who I was and where I came from.
After the apple bags were filled, the kids disappeared into a corn maze. The corn was only four and a half feet tall because of the drought (the farmer mentioned needing something like 300 million gallons of water for the orchard this year), but the little ones were lost to us until they reemerged at the exit red-cheeked and out of breath. We bought hot dogs and popcorn and apple cider and after lunch we waited for the tractor-trailer ride to tour the acreage. As we bumped around on the long benches, we marveled at the poison ivy that spread from the roots to the tops of some of the tallest trees, the leaves of many blazing red, orange, and yellow. One large tree trunk bore the scar of a severe lightning strike, one patch of land grew giant cinderella pumpkins. One creek ran dry.
The kids picked out mini gourds to take home along with our apples, and we all hugged tightly and kissed each other goodbye-until-nexttime.