Before we moved to Minnesota, I was aware of maybe two kinds of apples: Granny Smith apples for baking and the mealy dark red ones that were always leftover at the bottom of the cafeteria fruit bowl. (Macintosh maybe? Bath and Body Works had a Macintosh-scented candle that was quite lovely. It certainly did not smell like that aforementioned fruit bowl apple which incidentally had no yummy smell).
Fast forward to having been Minnesotans for several years, and we are full-blown heart-eyes-emojis for apple season. One bite of that perfect juicy, sweet, crunchy Minnesota-grown Honeycrisp apple snatched fresh from the tree and everything changes, my friends. I cannot tell you how many times over the summer my husband and I would say, “you know what I’m looking forward to? Apple-picking season…” and then we would sigh and go back to sweating in the sun because Minnesota has ruined us in that way, that it hits 80 degrees and we are downright sticky and cranky and ready for sweater weather.
What we really look forward to is scouring the orchard for that perfect tree; its apples with their perfect red-to-yellow color ratio, high crunch factor, and optimal sweetness. When you find this tree you just plant yourselves at its roots, offer a word of gratitude, and proceed to fill as many bags as is humanly possible to then hustle to the trunk of your minivan.
If you notice that you’ve left a few at the top of the tree you convince your husband to climb it and if a rogue branch cuts through his jeans and leaves him with a potentially lifelong scar, that’s just part of the process. We are changed people and it is clearly messing with our judgment.
The downside to this is that after you have that perfect Honeycrisp (/Golden Crisp/Zestar/Sweet Tango), it will ruin you for all other apples for the rest of your life. You will find yourself traipsing around some second-rate orchard in Illinois with a friend who keeps handing you mediocre apples off some sad tree which you will nibble hesitantly and promptly slam on the ground declaring “THESE APPLES ARE GARBAGE” and then you will get a little bit upset that Illinois would even grow such an inferior product, but when you recall that they are superior in pretty much every other food category because of Chicago, you will feel ok that they have allowed Minnesota to have this one thing.
But friends, those outside of Minnesota will not understand your fervor surrounding Honeycrisp apple-picking season. When met with an offer to package and mail off a few precious fruits of your labor, family members will respond with, “oh don’t worry… We have apples at our grocery store, too” and you’ll have to take a deep breath and resist the urge to start rocking back and forth in a corner somewhere because that’s like turning down chocolate cake because your toddler made you a dirt pie in the backyard. To you, those off-season apples hardly even exist. But can you blame them? You were once where they were. Ignorant to the world of the Honeycrisp, thinking all apples were the same. But now you know. You light that Macintosh-scented candle, dream about the Honeycrisp, and allow yourself to get a little weird.