THE LOOT: Apples
Photos by Tracey Lindeman
Like many of you, I’m still in denial about this whole end-of-summer thing. If my inner child had her way, I’d be latched on to a terrasse railing, stomping my sandaled feet and screaming, “It’s not FAIR!” until someone refilled my sangria.
Luckily, Montrealers know how to make the most of every season, and the coming of fall — sorry for using the F-word — brings with it a whole new list of cheap, kid-friendly stuff to do. The apple-picking season has begun, so here are five reasons to put your tam tams and white pants back into storage and head to the orchards.
1. It’s cheap. With dozens of apple orchards a short drive off the island to choose from, it’s the perfect blend of fresh air and socially acceptable child labour. Unlike the amusement parks of summer, you don’t pay per person (big or small) to get in. You just pay for the apples.
This week, we sampled the Paula Reds at Verger David Charbonneau. It’s $8 for a 10-pound bag, or $15 for a 20-pound bag. Technically, if you didn’t want to take any apples home with you, you could set your kids loose in the orchards for the afternoon for free. But the apples are so cheap, it’s well worth the investment — even if you never get around to making that apple pie you swear on the way home that you’re going to bake. Don’t worry. No one believes you.
SET YOUR KIDS LOOSE HERE: Apple orchard
2. There’s free shit to do. While it varies from orchard to orchard, the apples come with extras. At David Charbonneau, there’s a free ride to the best places to start picking. It alternates between horse- or tractor-drawn wagons, both of which earn you big points with the little ones. There are also, of course, the all-you-can-eat apples that never make it into the bag. Where else do you get unlimited free snacks? And once you’ve filled your bag and your tummies, there are park areas near both the boutique and canteen for the kids to run off their all natural sugar highs. Or to keep them going with fresh beignets (glorious balls of fried apple dough) and juice.
3. It’s healthy. What the hell is healthier than apples?
4. A low effort-to-exhaustion ratio. If my son passed out frosh week-style in the backseat of our car is any indication, our apple-palooza was an unqualified success. And while they run through the orchard, climb trees, pick apples, swing and slide, you just have to hold the bag.
5. Nostalgia is underrated. Apple picking is a nauseatingly near-perfect, Waltons-worthy experience. There’s just something about the way wagon rides and the smell of freshly fried apple dough make you feel that doesn’t quite fit into words; it can only be communicated through big, dopey smiles. And no matter how much of a jaded urbanite you may think you are, those smiles are worth way more than the bag of apples that will very likely end up rotting in your fridge (because you’re never going to make that pie). ■