======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
She emerged from the car after their 45-minute drive from the city. Dark jeans, deep brown leather boots that covered her shins, and a chunky sweater topped with a plaid cashmere scarf big enough for her to share with Todd as a blanket on their couch while watching Friends reruns on Netflix.
“Is this seriously it?” she asked Todd who attempted to put a leash on Sperry’s collar. She tip-toed through the muddy parking lot attempting to not let her boots get too much mud on the toe or heal.
Upon fastening the collar, Todd jokingly responded, “What’d you expect? A five-star resort?”
Hands on her hips with her sunglasses far enough down on her nose that Todd could see her eyes, she shot him a dirty look that screamed “unamused” before they both approached the apple stand that had been set up for visitors of the orchard. Greeted with a hearty, “Welcome to the farm,” Todd struck up a conversation with the father of the young girl selling apple cider in Dixie Cups.
“Excuse me,” she began. “Sir, is this cider organic?”
He confirmed that it was, in fact, organic and that his farm was completely free of any GMOs at which point she clarified with Todd that they simply had to get a few gallons of cider for their Halloween party. And after getting some direction on where to go to pick the apples, Todd grabbed a bushel from a stack next to the stand and began walking with Sperry towards a line of trees.
“It’s, like, so pretty out here,” she explained to Todd. She had caught up to him walking and even attempted to walk ahead of him despite the mud. It was her way of saying, “Please take a candid photo of me in front of these trees” without actually saying, “Please take a candid photo of me in front of these trees.” Todd, knowing what was expected of him, took out of his phone and took a couple photo bursts – both portrait and landscape, you know, just in case.
Approaching their first tree, she muttered, “It’s a lot colder out here than I expected it to be,” before Todd offered his vest only to be turned down because it would ruin her aesthetic in the photos. Grabbing her first apple off the tree, she described to him how disgusting it looked to her. Covered with a few dents and one hole in it, she questioned whether or not there was something wrong with the tree, or on an even larger scale, the farm itself. Todd explained to her that the apples wouldn’t look like they did in Whole Foods when they are picked from the farm but was simply met with “Why not?” before he moved on to asking if she, again, wanted her picture taken.
She bent over to pick up Sperry – again, clearly fishing – and talked in dog-speak for the next thirty seconds while standing under the tree. In between ESPN updates regarding the NFL scores, Todd took her desired photos.
“Alright, let’s keep moving,” he said before she asked to see his phone, presumably to review his work.
“How many apples are you going to want?” Todd asked while they continued down the row. Unsure of an answer, she reasoned with him about what they had ahead of them schedule-wise: “Well, the cider should keep until the Halloween party in a week and a half, but we don’t want to get too many apples since I’ll be in Cabo for Caroline’s bachelorette.”
Todd knew that the trip wasn’t truly about picking apples, so he lethargically filled the bushel until it looked reasonably full enough to justify their Sunday trek.
“Why don’t we just, like, loop back,” she told him, “And we can pay for the apples and just head back in time to meet up with Katie and Finn for the game.”
Surprised, Todd shrugged happily and grabbed her hand where they shared the grip on Sperry’s leash, the bushel of apples hanging from his other hand. Tree by tree, they walked peacefully looking around the farm. A peaceful reprieve from the city, a peaceful reprieve from life.
“Can I ask you something?” she asked, breaking the brief silence.
“What are you guys going to do all next weekend while we’re at Caroline’s party?” .