After an utterly exhausting first week of pre-K, the smart thing to do would have been to stay close to home. Maybe hit a playground, or head to the carousel. Get some gluten free frozen yogurt. But what did we do? Pack up our two kids and head to northern New Jersey for some early season apple picking.
Did I mention everyone (with the exception of the baby who later refused to nap) was up at 5:30 that morning?
There was crying, whining, tantruming, apologizing, more whining, then a mad dash for the car with a cranky baby who thankfully fell asleep for the hour long ride. We BOOF-ed of course, but in a hurry, so it was cooler bag stuffed with Udi’s bread, turkey, cheese, carrots, leftover pizza for Bunky and a box of Enjoy Life cookies. Sounds grand, except it feels like that’s all we’ve been eating lately. More on that later.
Demarest Farms is close, which was key to our choosing it (no more long meandering drives upstate, not with a cranky preschooler and a wild card baby) but we had never been there before so didn’t really know what to expect.
The picturesque farm market turned out to be a crowded, overpriced grocery store (with more candy than seemed humanly necessary, even with Halloween looming), but there were some quaint touches, like a mini corn maze and picnic tables to lunch at before taking a tractor down the road to the orchard.
It was a gorgeous day, sunny, clear skies, 70 degrees. Perfect for apple picking.
So, why the blues, you ask?
Food. Who was blue? Not Bunky, though she was a bit irritated that we made her eat lunch before going to the orchard. It was Bunky’s dad. I saw him eyeing the outdoor barbeque, watching people line up for hotdogs, burgers, and whatever other gluten-tastic food they were serving. There was an ice cream stand, but no ingredient list available. Ignorant morons, my husband growled when I asked him if it was gluten free. Uh oh. Later when we made the mistake of venturing inside the market to look for a treat Bunky could eat, the warm sugary scent of fresh baked apple cider donuts assaulted us immediately. Even my girl paused in her mad hunt for candy to ask in an awestruck voice, what is that smell?
That made me a little sad. But ultimately it wasn’t me or Bunky feeling the effects of living the GF life. It was my man.
Food associations hold strong, and sometimes sadness about missing food isn’t just for your children, it’s for yourself.
We ate our lunch surrounded by people devouring goodies from the farm market. Smoke wafted over from the barbeque, prickling our noses. There was nothing wrong with our GF spread. Certainly, our daughter had no problem gobbling up her leftover Udi’s pizza and snacking on carrots. I inhaled my sandwich mindlessly while bouncing Little Guy on my lap. These days food is not about pleasure for me. It’s about how fast can I cram it into my mouth before having to feed or take care of a kid.
In the moment, I was too busy doing both those things to really understand the reason for my husband’s stony face, his short temper. I want a hot dog, he finally whispered to me.
I have to admit, in the moment I was less than sympathetic. Now I realize I should have been kinder. It wasn’t really about having a hot dog – my husband doesn’t even really like hot dogs – it was about not having any safe food choices. It was about losing the ability to be spontaneous and carefree when going on a day trip with your family. It was about being hungry. Which my husband does NOT handle well, and to be honest, neither do I.
There is an upside to being forced to forgo fast food. It’s healthier to BOOF, of course, and probably less expensive, if the $7 candy corn was any indication of the BBQ prices.
But still. It kind of sucks.
After lunch we walked over to the tractor. Bunky was thrilled. Enough with the eating, she was ready to get on with the day. The wheels are so big, she said, her eyes wide and sparkling blue, bright as the sky. As we bumped along the road, driving noisily past people’s back yards (they must love that), and farther away from the busy touristy farm market, I began to feel lighter, happier, and I think my husband did too. Apple picking is about apple picking, but sometimes the other stuff makes you forget that.
Soon the houses gave way to the soft rolling hills of the orchard, and we could see clusters of red apples in the nooks of the trees. We clambered off the tractor and got to it. Bunky and Little Guy nibbled on apples in the warm sun while my man made sure we got our nine-dollar bag’s worth.
The next morning we did what we should have done the day before – relaxed at home. Bunky and I made these donuts. And she said, looking at them proudly, licking sugar off her fingers, these are awesome.