News of the Kingdom of God first sounded not in the muggy, dusty capital cities, but on the shores of an azure lake among green groves and hills, reminding us that the beauty of the earth is a reflection of the eternal beauty of heaven.
— Fr. Alexander Men
I can still remember the strong impressions from my first time apple picking with our local Orthodox Christian School. I was a recent transplant from the Midwest, a good ole’ boy adrift in the complicated, concrete urban jungle of Boston. My idea of fun was sitting on the front porch and watching the grass grow. The city overwhelmed me, and I pined away for the countryside where a blade of grass stood a chance to survive.
We have now been going Apple picking with Saint Herman of Alaska Christian School for over 2 decades and every time seems sweeter than the first. In the morning, we gather at school for the usual daily prayer followed by the singing of fall folk songs unaccompanied and without sheet music. The songs speak of cool brisker days, sweet harvest meals, and sitting under spreading branches waiting for the first snowfall. The thanks rendered for golden harvest puts teachers, parents, and students in just the right mood for the day to come.
Only 45 minutes from Boston in the northwestern city of Northborough, MA, Tougas Family Farm has been growing pickable fruit for almost 40 years. In the fall season, their wide variety of apples from the sweet, crispy Royal Gala to the large, fat Cortland cooking apple turns picking into a gourmet lesson on subtle tastes. And the one-room schoolhouse nature of Saint Herman’s School shines forth as older Middle-schoolers mingle and mentor the fledglings from Children’s Garden. The harvest songs practiced back at school ring out loud and clear on the Hay ride to and from the Orchard, while all of nature joins the chorus of praise to the Creator of the Harvest.
Glory to God for all things bright and beautiful, great and small. May the Lord God give his grace and blessed them all!