When asked the other day how we found out about the u-pick apple orchard a few towns over last year, I had the most cliché answer in the book: I had googled local u-pick orchards last September because it seemed like "all the other bloggers were doing it" come autumn-time, and I didn't want to be left out.
Because if there's one thing you can count on finding on pretty much any lifestyle blog out there, it's all the autumn worship--the swooning over pumpkin-flavored treats and the lighting of cranberry-scented candles and the picking of dusty-sweet apples at a local orchard. (And loads and loads of pictures of positive proof that it all actually happened because if there's not a picture and you didn't put it on the blog, it might as well have not occurred.)
So we basically had to go.
Besides, I just loved drooling over all the gorgeous orchard pics (since I have a dream that will likely remain unrealized of owning a huge property that has at least a dozen fruit trees or so on it).
So off we went to the Paradise Valley Orchard, accompanied by our good friends and lacking nothing but a dog to frolic through the sprawling trees with us (although it's probably only a matter of time before that too happens since my husband has been begging me for a puppy basically since we were newlyweds, and my daughter thinks dogs are about a billion times funnier and more interesting than humans).
Unfortunately for us, we must have had poor luck with our timing this year since many of the apple trees which were actually ready had been picked over pretty good. (Last year, we were among some of their very first customers on opening day and had the pick of the place, and when we went back for a second round, pretty much almost everything was ripe, so there was plenty to go around).
However, we were not to be deterred--we borrowed one of the poles special-made for getting apples from the very tops of the trees, and Matt and Aaron amused themselves trying to literally pick the trees clean.
There was no reason to be disappointed, though--it was a perfect end-of-summer kind of day with just a slight bite of fall in the air, and we were surrounded by sunlit fields and apple-scented breezes and good company.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how traditions start, and what traditions Matt and I have started together since getting hitched four and a half years ago. Some have been intentional (like our special Christmas dinner), and some haven't been (like this orchard visit that started, honest to goodness, because "all the other bloggers were doing it"). And some of our favorite past events might become traditions (like the pre-Thanksgiving feast we had with a bunch of friends), or they might just remain one-time happy memories in the storybook of our lives.
Only time will tell.
But however traditions start, one thing I know for sure is that they're important.
I think it's important to have events that are repeated year after year, with new memories accumulating each time and the bonds of family and friendship that tie them all together growing stronger and more precious with the passing of time.
Not only do traditions give something to look forward to, but they give us pockets of strength and support and love to look back on. They give us a sense of stability when everything else is changing. They give us a yardstick to look back on, measuring the growth that comes with each new year.
This year, we had a bright-eyed five-and-a-half-month-old who sucked on an apple for the first time and liked to mirror whatever Daddy was doing, from staring off into the distant fields to reaching up for an-almost-just-out-of-reach piece of fruit.
Next year, we might be at a different orchard due to a job change. Or maybe I'll be pregnant again. Or maybe our life will take a detour unforeseen to us (as it's been apt to do these past six months especially).
Whatever happens, I gather strength from knowing that I have fun traditions to look forward to, whatever our circumstances in life.
(Oh, and in case you were worried about us not getting enough apples, don't you fret--the Paradise Orchard always has pre-picked stuff inside their little shop, so we stocked up on loads and loads of Honeycrisp apples and fresh-made apple cider).
Until next year, apple orchard! (Or until we run out in a few weeks and go back for more...)
(And in case you're curious, here's the post from our trip to the orchard last year when I was still in the first trimester of pregnancy but hadn't told anyone we were expecting yet)