Growing up, trips to Maine in October consisted of weekends at my parents’ f
‘Maine House,’ the Fryeburg Fair, and marathon apple-picking sessions at McSherry’s Orchard in the town of Sweden.
I’d run through the trees, plucking macs, red delicious, and cortlands from low-hanging branches and gradually gaining confidence on the ladders, reaching higher and higher with every tree for bright, red fruit on the highest boughs.
I revisited the orchard on Columbus Day weekend; today, it’s known as Pietree, and there’s another Octobery aspect to it in addition to the apple harvest. In danger of being razed and turned into condos a few years ago, a certain horror-writing duo stepped in and bought the orchards, making a slew of improvements along the way.
Some betray my memories: bare flatbeds towed by tractors that we used to run and jump on to as they passed have been replaced with wagons with benches, stairs, and regular stops. The ladders have given way to hand-held fruit-picking poles. And the wooden bushel boxes we used to fill are now $18 plastic bags.
Others, though, are welcome additions: the rocking chairs in the front yard, the warm cider donuts, and the hand-painted outdoor murals, to name a few.
After picking far too many apples for two people to consume without gastric distress, we moved on to a tiny Fall Festival at the Lovell Historical Society, where a dollar donation bought you all the treats you could eat, fresh-pressed apple juice, and a tour around the society’s collection of antiques and displays of how Maine life treated the locals in the 1800s.
It was all very bucolic … and a nice dose of nostalgia, harkening back to the days when life was as simple as staying put on a wooden ladder and filling a box with apples.