The pretend orchardist


Sometimes I like to pretend . . . I’m not me.

Maybe it’s the mindset of a writer. Or, ah . . . maybe I’m just a little quirky. Either way, I like stepping outside myself occasionally to think about life in other places, other environments. That means taking a break from being a 27-year-old suburbanite who spends her days with words — in columns; blog posts; newspaper features — to become the a girl with dirt-stained jeans at work on a family farm. Or the wizened old farmer patiently churning apple butter over an open flame. Or the energetic country kid climbing a hay stack that stretches into the sky.



Having lived in the same town since I was two, it’s fun to imagine life elsewhere. I’m always peppering my boyfriend with questions as we cruise through far-flung places: “Where do you think people work around here? How do they have fun?”

On Sunday, I thought about being an orchardist. The grove was quiet as we climbed the hilltop, away from the din of the festival below — a sequestered spot in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Far from home. Out in the country, away the hubbub and the chaos . . . well, it just feels easier to breathe.



In keeping with my recent farming obsession, Graves Mountain Farm in Syria, Va., was a hay-scented playground. I thought about Amanda Coplin’s novel as we walked the rows of near-barren trees, feeling a cool breeze on my sunburned face. Though I know nothing about crops, I can appreciate the serenity of nature — and feel at peace in the mountains.

When we crested the hill in the orchard, I was so fixated on looking for apples that I didn’t bother turning around. I didn’t look back to see how far we’d come. But that was the best view: of the working farm and silos below; the crowded festival in the distance; the lodge on the hill. Mountains rising up beyond, lightly dotted with the colors of autumn. Lone apples in the branches just out of reach.



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10 thoughts on “The pretend orchardist

  1. I’ve lived out in BFE, until I went to college, so I know that there ARE grocery stores. You just have to drive a half an hour to get there, and you better not forget anything! Your friends just don’t “come over”. But it is wholesome, and as I grow older I appreciate it more than I did when I was a teenager. I have farm fantasies. Nothing will probably come from it.

  2. I have a wanderlust that I’m always itching about with hubz. We recently took a trip to Northern California where I became enchanted with living in a small little city apartment in San Francisco and then quickly switched gears and wanted to open a boutique winery in the middle of Sonoma, haha.

  3. Beautifully written Meg! Oh how I love pretending :-)! Jenni and I have been frolicking about the Blue Ridge Mountains picking apples this week too! Great minds think alike, right? 😉

  4. Gorgeous photos.

    I tried to convince my husband that we should buy a small farm. He said no, because I’m allergic to hay, and cats, and tree pollen. Even working in our little garden patch can make my arms itch for days.

  5. I have lived in VA most of my life and often experience the hay-scented playground you describe. It is a memory from childhood to climb on the freshly stacked hay with my friends and pretend for hours. 🙂

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