I love family traditions. In the midst of changing seasons (both natural seasons and seasons of life), I appreciate the stability and sense of belonging that comes with those traditions, the sense of anticipation they bring as each season or holiday rolls around again.
Over the past several years we have established the tradition of picking apples each autumn, always with friends and ideally followed by a picnic. I thought we had missed our chance this year when the orchard we had been going to announced that their season was over. I found another orchard with one more weekend of apple picking, though, and so we went this weekend.
We arrived in the chilly morning, shortly after the orchard opened for the day. Armed with our baskets, we trooped out to back portion of the orchard (past roaming chickens), to the few remaining trees still laden with apples. There were a lot of kids in our group -- five between all of us -- and I enjoyed watching their delight as they plopped apples into their baskets and swung them around while the littlest ones (including our Ethan) bounced in carriers on their mother's fronts.
After we filled our baskets and paid for our apples, we spread blankets under a large tree in the corner of the property for a picnic. I had baked homemade bread and chocolate cookies to bring, along with cheese, olives, and an apple kale salad, and another friend brought chicken. We feasted on these and then visited for a while afterwards before we all went our separate ways. It combined some of my favorite things -- sunshine, autumn, picnics, friends, and fellowship around good food -- for a perfect fall Saturday.