Activity-Picking at Sky Top

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An Amble with Gamble: Stories from the Parenting Trenches with Taryn Gamble

-Come take a stroll down memory lane with me-

Apple picking with young kids is frankly just a front for trying out a new play area, isn’t it? An expensive, far-away play area.

It’s all a ruse anymore.

I grew up with my grandparents taking us on the annual Sky Top Orchards trek and have rich memories from that tradition. Mind you, this was back when Sky Top was just an apple orchard and farm stand and had no structured play areas or food to sell outside of produce and cider.

It was glorious in its simplicity, though I definitely appreciate the upgrades now. The focus was solely on APPLE PICKING during my childhood. And pick we did! My poor mother would be drowning in our 10 pecks of poorly selected apples every year when we returned, now responsible to make quarts of applesauce daily for three weeks straight.

Well. Life certainly had a way of escaping my grasp for the last six years as we failed each year to find a day to take the kids apple picking—a tradition I always planned to continue. My parents came through this year, though!

Thanks to their planning, my three youngest made their orchard debut November 6, 2019 on a crisp, breezy Wednesday. The oldest had technically been as a toddler. Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on the sky color below and do not neglect to note the layers of our apparel. Are you picking up what I’m putting down? THE WEATHER WAS COOL AND DRY. Also, recognize the profound lack of crowds.

Still want to go apple picking? Here’s the Kidding Around Guide to Apple Orchards near Greenville.

Now, I know some of you Enneagram Sevens out there are thinking, “Actually, waiting until November to go apple-picking could result in a small harvest.” Well, Mel, you’d be absolutely correct, because as a busy mother to four, the last thing I’m interested in doing is spending a mortgage payment on a van-full of apples or cooking down seven bushels this week. I’m also not interested in breaking a sweat to enjoy Autumn.

But I do like fresh-picked apples! Don’t mistake me. We lucked out, for sure. Not only was the atmosphere absolutely ideal, but there were still plenty of apples to be had down in the lower orchard. A little trek on a gorgeous day doesn’t phase me in the slightest, and the kids still learned the art of choosing the ideal Granny Smith. We prefer our fruit sassy with a little bite—as one does in life.

But back to my original statement that pick-your-own orchards are nothing about apples and all about family activities, my children definitely lived up to that theory. The animal pens at Sky Top did not disappoint.

My one-year-old, Cecily, is in the phase where all animals are referred to by their sound. So many Baas, Quacks and Bock-Bocks to admire and feed. My sweet father invested a significant stack of coins into animal food. Cecily so patiently held out her grain for the farm animals. I thought my heart might combust! Sullivan, my cautious six-year-old, refused to remove his gloves for feeding, however. Safety first.

The issue is that the animals couldn’t scent his hand out as well and wouldn’t approach his grainy, gloved hand for feeding. After much coaxing, he finally removed his glove for the eager peahen, but then she decided to be a diva and strutted away anyway! Stuffy dingdong! Ask me how our courageous Sullivan felt about that.

I’ll give you a hint: It rhymes with “Hemotional.”

That playset at the top of the orchard, though, is heaven on Earth. After we finally peeled the children away from the animal area, we really shot ourselves in the foot by ensconcing them in the playground. I’ve never tried to pry two pipes apart secured by Super Glue, BUT luring my children back to the van after that hour of play was basically the same thing.

While the girls, three and one, were playing, the three-year-old tumbled down a ramp and planted hard on her bottom. Cecily, who, again, is but ONE YEAR OLD, let out a piercing shriek of laughter at her sister’s plight! I almost choked on my cider donut (What a waste that would have been.). Here I thought I was raising sympathetic, helper humans, while apparently, I’m raising brazen hussies who cackle at the misfortune of others. So glad that my flawless mother was nearby to witness that reality check.

What a humbling moment. Right up there with my eight-year-old making a friend and beginning a game of hide-and-seek. My son hid *by the open window* of the playhouse *next to the Seeker* so he could “watch.” Lord have mercy. I’ll let you visualize just how well-concealed he truly was.

Anyway, we had a terrific day despite my utter distrust of my parenting abilities.

We picked one peck of apples and left them in my parents’ trunk by mistake. My parents left on vacation from there. For 5 more days.

That’s how dedicated to apple consumption our trip was.

Parents, I know you understand. Activities > Apples always.

Want another Amble with Gamble? Here’s Taryn’s family trick-or-treating adventure.

About the Author
Taryn Gamble lives in a big blue fixer-upper in Piedmont, SC with her four kids, an adorable Holland Lop bunny, and an endless list of chores. When not baking snickerdoodles, she prefers to be barefoot outside, instilling a love of learning in her kids.

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