It may be hard to imagine the scent of rotting apples to be romantic. Still, it becomes just that when you picture their tart aroma in conjunction with endless hillside trees, a crisp fall breeze, and the joyful spirit of apple picking in an authentic orchard.
Apple picking has been a whimsical fall activity that I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I finally went this past September. Nestled next to the beautiful Cherokee National Forest, Ellijay, Georgia, is a quaint countryside filled with rolling hills and a handful of apple orchards. We chose an orchard called B.J. Reece Apple House and Orchard, which I highly recommend. However, I can only imagine the many other orchards nearby are just as fantastic.
After paying for a medium-sized “U-Pick” bag, we strolled 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 allowed us to escape from the world into our fantasies.
The trees had thousands of apples to pick from, but I was surprised by how many had fallen and begun the decomposition process. I had to watch my step in my suede sandals because some were mushy piles of gunk. However, as mentioned before, the tart scent was endearing, and having them there added to the organic experience. However, the hanging apples 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 explored the orchard’s shop. The shop was a large warehouse where they made fresh baked goods, sold apples by the singles to the bushel, and even processed them for delivery to local supermarkets. It was a treat to see and taste how the apples are cared for straight from the orchard.
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 doing it with my family because it’s a day I will cherish forever.