Going Apple Picking

Sky Meadow Farms in Leona Valley
It feels kind of primitive, this deep satisfaction. There are bowls of fruit all over my living room and kitchen, fresh fruit picked with my own hands and the sight of it fills me with contentment.

You might remember that I postponed an apple picking trip several weeks ago when we had that heat wave. Well... now the weather is crisp and cool and the picking trip was rescheduled for last Sunday. On Saturday, I realized the You Pick orchard in Oak Glen that I had planned to visit was closed on Sundays. So, I googled around and found Sky Meadow Farms in Leona Valley: open on Sundays!

My pickers converged, the car was packed, coffee was procured, GPS was set and off we went. Leona Valley is a bit closer to Hollywood than Oak Glen. It was a fascinating drive. I'm still not exactly sure where we went... we drove past Burbank to Palmdale and then drove a little more. As the flatlands gave way to hills, an odd mix of trees--some with these big, wide, prehistoric looking leaves--lined the roads. Up and up we wound, past imposing rock formations and a body of water, probably a reservoir, sprinkled with a few verdant islands. After just about an hour of driving, we saw the sign for Sky Meadow Farms.

Arkansas Black apples
We each got a bucket and a quick recap of what fruit was where. Out back, behind the farmhouses, were Fuji and Arkansas Black apples. I've never heard of that second variety, but they were like storybook apples: round, shiny and deep, deep red. I thought about Snow White as I pulled them from the trees.
Fuji apples
The fujis were a little smaller and apparently more popular because there weren't too many left on the trees.

A grove of bare cherry trees (I'll be back for those next season) and green apples stood across from the barn. A dozen green apples joined the Arkansas Blacks and Fujis in my bucket. It was cold enough to need a jacket and the wind through the trees was a perfect autumn soundtrack. I love being able to really feel a season and with every thump thump of an apple meeting the bottom of a bucket, I felt more embraced by fall.

peaches?  yep, peaches
But this IS California, the land of what-season-is-this-exactly and back by the entrance to the farm, were lines of peach trees, still heavy with ripe fruit. We topped our buckets of apples with gorgeous peaches the color of a sunset. A shot of fall with a summer chaser.

Most of their apples are $1 a pound, the Arkansas Blacks were $2 a pound and the guys weighing the fruit were both friendly and a little loose with their poundage estimates. When the scale said five, the guy said, "ehhh, three." Fruit is bagged and weighed in the barn. Across from the giant hanging scale is a little wood-burning stove that, while we were there, lightly scented the barn with sweet smoke. Was there not already a dog curled up in front of the fire, I would have laid down there myself.

Sky Meadow Farm's website promises that "you will experience a very Relaxed and Calm feeling, as if you were set back to a date in time when time was of no importance." They delivered. It was so relaxing, walking around, swinging my bucket, filling my lungs with fresh, cool air.

some loud cows

These guys were not nearly as zenned out. They didn't seem very impressed with our apple picking skills: they mooed at us the whole time we were in the orchard across the fence from them.

Sky Meadow Farms is open only on weekends. It's not terribly far from Los Angeles, but it feels like it is. And right now, the apples are lovely and the peaches are sweet.