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.

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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