At least once a week, Kid and I commit to driving out of the city to get somewhere to walk in the country, somewhere with
dirt paths or no paths, a hardwood canopy, the sound of running water that isn't channeled through a storm sewer pipe. Away from the broken glass and grafitti. Away from the honking horns and constant running of the bus up and down
our street. I hate living in the city and without these breaks, I'd be really unhappy and feel like I was doing a poor job of endowing her with an appreciation of the church not made with hands.
Today, we drove about 20 miles out to a orchard below a stunning nearby promentory. It's a wild outcrop of craggy
cliffs that makes you tighten your hold on the hand of your kid out of reflex. We often go up there to watch vultures fly into their nests (seeing them from a top view changes one's perspective) and to terrify ourselves by sitting atop a rock wall that demands no error in balance. On top, we eat sandwiches and look back at the pocket-sized city, with miles of fall foliage brightening between.
The orchard sits directly below what were, today, mist-muddled cliffs dominating land once claimed by the Mohawk. Before them, the Owasco, and so on back through the eras until reaching all the way back, there is Turtle, digging up mud and forming us all. The skies were dark grey, close, with a fine spray of rain that soaked us down to those turtle-made bones. Now there are apple trees, row upon row, planted on hills so that the cold air vents down and circulates. The only Indian is on
the logo on the half-bushel bags that we buy from the pick-ur-own guy in the red pickup truck. The trees were full of purple-red apples, ripe to hand, juicy with a hint of chalk in their crunch. Three laughing kids -- mine and two playmates from school -- filled bag after bag with Empire apples, ran up and down the rows chucking windfalls at each
other, smelled the vinegary smell of rotten apples under the trees, looked at a lichen that resembled a ruffled turkey fan, listened to the geese honking overhead, ate cider donuts, taught each other to whistle, had a chance to be kids. Before we left, we gathered bouquets of chicory, fleabane, butter and eggs, ticklegrass, and bladder campion. In my kitchen, the chicory is a startling blue.
I'll be peeling apples all weekend, but it will be worth it.