Once upon a time there was a little boy who went to visit with his grandparents for a few days. One day, after having spent the morning playing with his grandfather his grandmother told him, “head outside to play for a while now, Grandfather and I have some work to do around the house.” “But what is there to do?” asked the little boy, “I didn’t bring any toys with me.” His grandmother smiled at him and said, “Go out and find a little red house, with no windows or doors and a star inside of it.” So the boy ran out the door, excited as he began to search for the little red house…
This is the story we closed with today, at our first meeting of the Garden Sprouts at Fishkill Farms. From the photograph I know you can imagine how the story turns out. Opening the apple to reveal the star inside was a little moment of magic for the children–and the grown-ups, too!
We started our morning baking apple muffins using both eggs and apples from the farm before heading out for a hike and some picking in the apple orchard. Preparing the muffins was definitely a cooperative event–I don’t think there was one set of small hands that didn’t add or mix and ingredient. After washing the sticky brown sugar from little fingers, we took our pails and started down the farm road toward the ripe McIntosh apples.
Josh and Hannah had some adorable new signs stenciled and painted to announce the fall picking season at the gate and to label the different
sections of trees in the orchard. We were greeted by a cheery McIntosh sign as we walked down the hill and after a couple of instructions the children were off into the trees. I was thrilled by how aware they were of their surroundings, noticing and talking about everything they saw, sometimes with a little prompting but also on their own. There were bees to study and fallen, fermenting apples to sniff. This lead to a discussion about apple cider and talk about the old adage of “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.” There were apples to be picked and buckets to be shared. There were holes in apples to be examined and speculated about and fluffy dandelion blossoms to blow and scatter. And there were leaf hoppers and monarchs and swallowtails in the meadow and turkey vultures swooping overhead and chickens to visit and Queen Anne’s lace to pick. Whew. All this in about a 40-minute walk around the farm. It reminded me of what a wonderful place it is.
When we returned from our hike, cheeks flushed and sweaty, we settled in at the picnic tables in the shade of the pergola which were spread with blank newsprint. Pans of red and green paint and apple halves completed the list of simple supplies as the kids set to work making a montage of apple prints, dipping the apple halves (and their hands!) into the paint and setting them on the paper. Much glee ensued upon lifting the apples and finding the impression left behind.
After our painting, we had a story in the meadow above the orchard, again in the shade but this time by some of the farm’s beautiful old trees, for a read-aloud and some silly apple rhymes. The muffins were ready by then and we shared them along with apple cider back under the pergola with the little red house story. I would be surprised if they didn’t all fall asleep in the car as soon as they left the farm!