It may be hard to imagine the scent of rotting apples to be romantic, but when you picture their tart aroma in conjunction to endless hillside trees, a crisp fall breeze, and the joyful spirit of an apple orchard, it becomes just that.
Apple picking has been a whimsical fall activity that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and was finally able to go last week while visiting my parents. Nestled next to the beautiful Cherokee National Forest, Ellijay, Georgia is a quaint countryside filled with rolling hills and a handful of apple orchards. While we chose an orchard called B.J. Reece Apple House and Orchard (which I highly recommend) there are many other choices nearby that I can only imagine are just as amazing.
After paying for a medium sized “U-Pick” bag and strolling over to the first rows of trees, we were immediately enthralled with how organic the fields felt. The trees were lush and the apples stood out like small gems in their branches. The rows ran so long that you felt lost in them and the field stretched for acres and acres, really allowing us to escape from the world into our own fantasies.
While there were thousands of apples to pick from, I was surprised at how many had already fallen and begun the decomposition process. I had to watch my step in my suede sandals because some of them were mushy piles of gunk but the tart scent, as mentioned before, was endearing. I think having them there added to the organic feeling. The apples that were hanging were ripe for the picking and I loved the sensation of caressing their shiny skin in my hand before giving them a satisfying pluck from the branch.
After our “U-Pick” bag was filled to the brim and heavy enough to make our arms sore, we dropped them off in our car and checked out the orchard’s main shop. The shop was a big, converted barn where they made fresh baked goods and cider, sold apples by the singles all the way to the bushel, and even processed them for delivery to local supermarkets. It was such a treat to see and taste how the apples are cared for straight from the source.
While the apples we picked were crispy and sweet enough to eat on their own, we used most of them to bake cozy apple pies and apple butter. This “orchard to table” experience was something I would recommend to anyone. I especially loved getting to do it with my family because it’s a day I will cherish forever.