My family likes traditions, rituals. Do something once, enjoy it, and suddenly it's a new "tradition."
This is how we ended up camping at Cape Lookout National Seashore every March for eight years.
This is why a majority of my camping memories from childhood involved Little Santeelah River.
This is why the last picnic with my cousins had to be at Mount Pisgah, despite my Grandma and Grandpa's absence.
I'm not criticizing. I like it. I like that seeing my Dad collect buckeyes with Owen can evoke for me the feel of my Grandpa's overalls and the scent of him--a barber-shop smell he had long after he stopped cutting hair for a living--as he stooped to pick up those shiny brown chestnuts and press them into my hands for luck.
I like seeing Owen create memories with her grandparents. And I like creating them for her. For us. As a family.
So, despite the fact that last year was the first time I had ever gone to the orchard to pick apples in the Fall...and despite the fact that Owen was way to young to even enjoy picking apples last year...we returned to Stepp Farm in Hendersonville, NC to create a new tradition for our little family.
It was vastly rewarding at a time in our family life when we needed connection. Maybe that's what traditions are for. Connection. Something to hold onto in the hard times. Something to bring those you've loved back into life. A place to breathe and to belong and to be.
So here they are...shots from our annual traditional apple-picking excursion, circa 2005.
First, there's the ride on Daddy's shoulders up into the orchard.
With a stop to feed and pet the neighbor horses.
Then down to business.
And once you're through with the picking, you simply cannot leave without a kitschy shot or two in front of the provided props.
Note: You can compare the last two photos to our first year apple excursion (2004) by clicking here.
It was a lovely day.