Last weekend was the first time I had stepped foot out of New York City in five months. We picked up breakfast bagel sandwiches at West 72nd, and after we piled into the back of the car, Natasha hurriedly took off up the west side highway, and carried us out to the golden hills along the Hudson River. Living in Manhattan without a break had such a profound effect on me that as we drove north up the motorway I was looking out the window beaming just seeing actual houses passing by. Houses with gardens, fences and driveways. Incredible.
We pulled up at Barton Orchards after an hour and a half. A few dozen cars parked on the empty field, looking down at the orchards and the valley stretching to the horizon. The air was crispy and free from wafts of pollution, pizza and people. I felt like we were on a whole different continent. (Read: hadn’t left NYC in five months).
Imagine the best apple you ever ate and then cry because your apple was bad in comparison to these apples. We slowly scuffed our way through the grass, crushing rotten apples under our boots. We ducked under the rows of trees to find a distant corner of the orchard to pick from.
Natasha’s witch game? Strong. There’s something satisfyingly rustic and unconventional about picking an apple off a tree and taking a bite. Isn’t there a tale somewhere here about forbidden fruit? I’m struggling to write right now. Can you tell? I don’t really know what to say for the next half a dozen images because they’re all just picking apples, and I like to think that’s fairly self explanatory. I have Hulu Plus playing in the background and it’s doing that thing where trailers and movie clips play one after another and 90% are horrendous films and 10% are good ones from 2012. Horrendous or not, it’s distracting.
The air in the orchards was crispy and sweet from the plethora of fallen apples blanketing the floor. We were rather late in the fall season to head out to the orchards, but there were more apples than I had expected. We might have had to reach a little higher but it was worth every stretch.
Bridget demonstrated an excellent example of apple-picking pilates. It’s a great form of exercise and the suburban Connecticut mothers love a good apple-picking pilates followed by a pumpkin-spice latte. Make sure you ask your Starbucks team member for your PSL to be ‘light’. It will help to keep you nimble for all those Autumn/Halloween-season activities and also less likely to accidentally bump into scary zombies and ghouls inside haunted houses because you are simply taking up less room.
On several occasions I had to actively put my camera down and just enjoy the relative silence. I stood still and stared up. Out there the sky seemed so much more vast and expansive. I could barely hear the sounds of rotten apples dropping down into the golden leaves, and the sounds of rotten children running a riot back at the barns faded out into the distance.
Barton Orchards has a lot happening during the Halloween season. Aside from apple picking they had a pumpkin patch, haystack tractor rides, a haunted house, a corn maze, farm animals to pet, apple cider donuts to eat, and live music. By the time we had filled our bag, and headed back up the hill to the barns, a larger crowd of people had arrived to join in the festivities. Hot, spiced apple cider helped wash down the donuts, and sooth us from the swarming family chaos.
To wrap up the visit we took to the corn maze. The man at the entrance to the maze passed us a code map and offered a pirate flag in case we became lost. We were told it could take half an hour to get out, however we snuffed his flag and rather unenthusiastically dawdled down the path into the greater maze. 80s rock tunes blared from a sound system by the entrance, and between strutting it out like an 80s glam-rock superstar and striking guitar strumming poses, we walked for 15 minutes before eventually cheating our way out of the maze. A fellow maze pirate made a comment about how impressed he was we found our way out before him, having entered the maze after him. We took the compliment and ran with it.
The girls bought some fudge for the road, and we picked pumpkins on the way out. I sat up front with Natasha on the way back because I insisted on finding some pretty houses to look at. We came across a little neighbourhood off the highway. Each of the houses sat far apart, and people were out mowing their lawns and raking the leaves enjoying the only remaining warm sunlight for the season. Natasha kindly slowed down for us to gaze out the windows at the beautiful homes, when suddenly an aggressive beep came from behind us and we realised this nearly empty town had a significant lineup of traffic trying to get through it, which we were selfishly holding up. We pulled over to let everyone pass, before working our way back out to the highway, endlessly stretching away from us and disappearing between the golden hills.
New York City is the city you can’t wait to get out of, but can’t wait to come back to. It sucks your soul out. It turns you into a terminator storming down the street, ducking and weaving between tourists who stop in the middle of the sidewalk to take a photo, and aggressive taxi drivers with unapologetic passengers onboard whom you make piercing eye contact with as they whip past. New York is certainly a concrete jungle where dreams are made (thank you Alicia for that one), but it’s also a fortress guarding you from the natural world outside that you had previously taken for granted.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope you’re enjoying the mid season while it lasts. To my friends and family in Sydney — please refrain from trying to upset me by posting pictures of the beaches and sunshine while New York descends into a deep frosty abyss. I love New York City and its scorching summers and glacial winters are all a part of its ridiculousness.
Follow my Instagram and you can join me on my journey from excitement to disgust at the snowy winter ahead.