This week we did something the boys look forward to every year: apple picking at MacPhee's Orchard. Five of their twenty varieties were ripe, and we chose to pick Spartans and Nova Spies. Sadly, my favourite JonaGolds were not quite ripe yet. I'm not sure yet if we'll manage to come back for them when they're ready... the orchard is about 40 minutes away from our place.
The orchard is a peaceful, quiet place with thousands of small trees. Children can easily pick apples all by themselves. We met several families from our local homeschool co-op there and got to work. SA(7) carefully read the information sheet telling us about all the varieties of apples...their taste, texture, and other defining characteristics. MM(3) pulled the wagon around. As usual, JJ(5) was my most faithful worker.
As we were paying for our apples (only .70/lb!), the boys caught sight of the maple syrup they were also selling. The boys wanted some, but I held them off ...maple syrup is expensive! Finally I decided they could buy some --if they went and bought it themselves (learning experience = added value, to me).
I gave SA(7) the money, and told JJ(5) to go with him and ask for a small bottle. They started off to the tiny store, but before they got there, JJ came back. "I'm shy, Mama," he said.
"I know," I said. "You just go along with SA. He's not shy."
They got to the little store, but didn't go in. All three of them (by this time MM had decided he wanted to be in on it, too) hung around the door and peeked in. This time SA came back.
"I've never done bought something without you before, and I feel nervous about it," said he.
"Well," I said firmly, "If you boys don't buy it, we're not going to have it."
So they went back again. At the door, they peeked in and looked back at me. "Go on," I encouraged.
They went in. Five seconds later, JJ came tearing out with the maple syrup, and SA came out more slowly with the change.
"Did he give you the correct change?" I asked.
"Yes," he said.
JJ was dancing with excitement. "He gave me the maple syrup, and he gave SA the money!"
"Did you do it the way I told you?" I asked them.
"Not exactly," said SA, "I didn't ask for a small bottle, I asked for a 500 millilitre bottle, because that's how much the small bottles hold."
So we went home and had apple pancakes and maple syrup for lunch.