The 88-degree temperatures made me skeptical when my wife suggested that we drive up to Erie Orchards in Monroe County to pick some apples and peaches. I started to respond with grumbling about the heat when I remembered we had extra guests this holiday weekend.
We had agreed to act as respite caregivers for another foster parent, and this was one of those moments where one puts aside weather-related selfishness in favor of broadening the horizons of children in our care.
So we packed up the gas-guzzling SUV and drove out to the orchards, a place that turned out to be completely outside the experience of these city kids. Despite heat, mosquitoes, and yellow jackets, I ended up spending an enjoyable afternoon in spite of myself.
Left: A first-time orchard visitor
The children who spent the weekend with us were between the ages of five and eleven, and I had forgotten how much time and energy are involved with younger kids. My children are all over the age of seventeen now, and experiences like helping with shoe-tying had faded from my everyday life.
Yet hearing a six-year-old singing "Old MacDonald" and "The Cuppycake Song"in the Suburban on the way home brought a smile to my face, as it has been years since my children have exhibited that youthful innocence.
And for a few hours I put aside my accumulated mountains of work and stressful thoughts, opting instead to eat pick peaches, eat ice cream, and wander around in the country.
I should do more of this.