An afternoon at the apple orchard….2013 Edition

What better way to celebrate the glorious first day of Autumn than with a report on our trip to the apple orchard yesterday. I look so forward to it every year. We have so much fun. I’m not sure why. You are picking apples, and putting them in a bag. It’s a pretty simple activity but these things seem to bring out the best in my kids.
The dynamics are different than when we are just hanging out at home. Simple is good. I take so many pictures and I cherish each one of them. Especially from occasions like these. Such occasions are not easily come by, sadly. Our schedules are crazy. At this time of  year, beyond crazy. Sacrifices are made to ensure that these rare few hours are set apart as sacred family time. Sometimes I feel draconian when I insist that we do these things, even if it means saying no to other things that seem worthwhile. I examine my motives, I wonder if I’m forcing something for my own satisfaction, for my own needs, or truly and genuinely for the good of the family, I vacillate over whether it would be better for sanity and unity to just let everyone do their own thing and relegate these traditions to rosy days gone by. The day of these events follows a predictable course. It is stressful to squeeze it in. Not everyone is keen. Often nobod is keen. We are often snarling at each other by the time we are finally en route to a lovely family bonding ritual, and I am squirming at how ridiculous and hypocritical it seems. And then we get there..
And I wonder how I could have ever wondered.
(Apparently this was the most efficient method of getting the apples from the tree into the bag..via 4 sets of hands…and oops, the ground. )
And Ella, well it’s pretty much the best day of her life. When I look at these photos, I feel sad that people still take their kids to photo studios at the mall and have them pose with random props, when all they have to do is take a few snapshots at an apple orchard.   You will see their natural expressions in glorious natural light, the little expressions you love, pure joy, the way they hold an apple, their sweet little gait captured mid-stride. Expressions of intensity and delight and concentration and dreaminess.   I get all my best, most timeless and beloved photos of my children, the ones which really capture the essence of who they are at that stage in their life, when I just let them be. When they are just outside, having fun.. being themselves.  I mean really. Could I have orchestrated cuter more charming poses if I’d tried all day? No. I could not.
These two make me melt. The sweet tenderness with which he handles and talks to her is just so endearing to me. He always has enough time and a sweet voice for her.  She really does bring out the best in all of the kids but her relationship with Benj pulls my heartstrings in a very particular way. Maybe because I know that their days like this together are numbered, maybe because one doesn’t often see the softest side of a fifteen year old boy unless there is an adorable baby sister around. Either’s so special to me.
Benj hamming it up…and looking handsome.
My kids, every one of them can never get enough of watching leaves float down a river. I will have you know that I almost fell a really long way into said river getting this yucky  quality picture, (and I did narrowly escape breaking a leg after a fall into a large hole. It wasn’t embarrassing at all.) But it was worth it. Over the years I have shots of  them all gazing at this very same river, it never gets old for them. Another one of the simple things that brings them together. I don’t want to forget.
I’d say Ella spends about 70% of her life giggling and running unsteadily as someone chases her. It’s not a bad life. She seems to be a fan.
Aaron and I conspired to create the cheesiest most embarrassing photo op possible here. I think we did a darn fine job of it. By the way, we came up with the tree/heart/finger thing as we stood there just before Gracie snapped the shot. In lieu of a tree carving. (We didn’t feel like the orchard would appreciate that.) I BET someone has actually done this in total seriousness though. First person to find an example of it on pinterest wins a prize.
We were very proud of ourselves..
Ok this makes me laugh so much. First of all,  I must say (although I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me)… although I totally wanted this picture this year, I actually did not bribe or cajole anyone to participate. I figured I had enjoyed a good run and the joke was not even that relevant anymore. Then Aaron said, “ok everyone pose for the Desperate Housekids picture” and resignedly… they did! I guess I really have broken them. I did not want to push my luck by instructing them to assume more convincing and less chagrined poses…so I took what I could get. But looking at the photos I am so struck by the increasing desperation/detachment in the faces as they age. Aptly captioned. Pretty sure 2013 marks the series finale Winking smile
This child is delicious.
The gusto with which she ate these apples…I cannot describe the joy it was to behold. I can just hear that crisp crrrunch..
The moment of savouring..
The juice dripping down her little chin. I don’t think I have ever seen her eat a “chokit bar” with that much satisfaction. It was good for the soul to watch.
Here mommy…try is so yummy!feedingmommy
And sweet little boyfriend…
Seriously can you even handle how dreamy he is?
Mr. Suave just chilling…oh..he makes me laugh.
And then we have Gabe ah… Gabe. He alternated between being goofy and creepily goofy all afternoon. Whenever he saw a photo being taken he attempted to photo bomb it and when he saw the camera directed at him he would pull a face like this one. I’m not sure why this picture came out so..high def but it makes it look extra freaky so…whatevs.
So when I was editing photos last night I saw this and was like..oh great, one normal shot of Gabe! But when I enlarged it, I realized that it also looked slightly manic and weird. I thought maybe it was just my imagination but then Aaron made the same comment. I finally figured out what it is..his one eye..he managed to make it slightly squint and with that gleam and that huge grin…the whole effect is just disconcerting. I still think I am going to print it out for the wall though. Because I laugh out loud every time I see it and I can hear Gabe’s totally infectious giggle. Even creepily manic, one cannot deny that this kid inside and just so ridiculously cute.gabe
My beautiful golden glowing Gracie. The mother daughter relationship is so much more complicated than with sons. It can be tempestuous. But there’s something about a daughter. . The same connection that allows you to push each other’s buttons juuuust right, also means that she knows what you need,  she senses and identifies with the deepest yearnings of your soul, and if you are blessed you will have a daughter who will fulfill those yearnings. She cleaned the bathroom for me today you know…like really, really, really thoroughly. When I went in there I was literally stunned by the shiny surfaces and lack of clutter. I stood there dazed and disorientated by the sparkle for a moment. Everyone should have a daughter like Gracie. She’s a good one. (And she has a really pretty profile.)
This series of photos is so precious to me, so cute and funny and the hazy lighting  makes me swoon. The three youngers were hanging out talking in this box and Gabe was doing his creepy photobombing thing-(you can see his eyes through the slats of the box). When Ella realized what he was up to..she left the box to evict him from the area. Most officiously.
Efficient and outraged at the intrusion of this peeping Tom
I say young man! Just what do you think you are doing?
There now. I don’t think we’ll be having any more trouble with the likes of him.
Gabe the Creeper. Foiled again. The facial expressions of each of them in this shot…classic. Ah the stories that pictures tell. I would have already forgotten that little moment. This is why I don’t regret a single of the millions of picture I have taken. I have a terrible memory and now this one is safe forever. Take more pictures, people. You won’t regret it.
Benj found a variety of ways to entertain himself at the orchard..some of them more organic than others..
Have we mentioned Ella? Any photos of her yet? What a delight she is to me. I love this picture. Aaron snapped it and the random halo-rainbow thing seems so appropriate. It was of those brief, dreamy little moments when everything is in soft focus and perfectly idyllic.
These are the moments that restore and sustain us between the eating strikes and the tantrums over not wearing our pajamas every second of every day, and the sleep deprivation. The sore hips from endless carrying and the ever delightful arched-back-carseat maneuver.
Truly, there is nothing like the love and trust of a very little person. It is privilege and and honour to be so unconditionally adored, and so easy to forget it if we don’t take time out of the trenches and just enjoy the sublime every so often. She is two and a half years old exactly today. Forever and a blink.
Oh look…Gabe is being creepy again. Imagine that.
The mall isn’t going to get this incredulous expression. It makes me laugh. And her sweet innocent curiosity, the way she is so completely enchanted and engaged with whatever she is doing..
Living her life with arms wide open…she loves the feeling of a breeze and often just puts her arms out to embrace it. Her little hand on her daddy’s leg…
The intensity of their expressions….pullllllllll….I love it.
Finny and Gracie’s friendship. I remember being like this with my little brother, Seth. A beautiful supportive uncompetitive relationship. It makes me so happy that they have each other. This picture makes my heart swell and ache simultaneously. I wish I lived closer to my siblings…sniff. I forbid my children from ever living more than an hour away from each other. I forbid it, I say!
Benj teaching Finny some sort of secret handshake, high fiving hybrid thingie..
Gabe sporting a non-psychotic expression. He really is a lovely child.
This photo…I want to marry it.
Who could ask for anything more? I am grateful.
To see previous forays to the apple orchard click here 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

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Anonymous said...

Read this at the beginning of the day and it has set me up for a good one. What gorgeous memories you have captured. I agree with you. Forbid your kids not to live close to each other. Aaron, lucky we love you. You two started the rot!

Thalia Randall said...

Beautiful photos and precious memories. Thanks for sharing :)

Jessica said...

That photo of Gabe on the side of the box - perfect. I agree. My memory sucks too, so it's photos like this that are wonderful.