APPLE FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS by Bob Weeden of Whims Farm.

(Host Farm # 8 on Apple Festival program)

The day is a pearl, lustrous from its living source.

Cars leave the fir-hemmed road and emerge into the sunburst of the farm. From hayfield parking people saunter toward the voices, the movement, the open doors. Some stop at the apple press, 22 years old but neat as new, the centre of smiles. Kids climb a chair to drop green and red and yellow apples into the chipper, leaning and peering and shouting in startled glee as chips fly from hopper to face. They turn the screw of the press, pour amber juice through sieve and funnel, taste what they have made.

Many people come first to the patio where coffee and warm gingerbread and applesauce are for the taking. They relax, talk, turn toward the open-sided barn where pears and apples glow from boxes on hay bales. There are dozens of kinds with names harking back to youths on the prairies, on orderly old farms along the St. Lawrence, in England or Holland. Golden Russet. Wolf River. Fameuse. King. Ashmeade’s Kernel. Boskoop.

An orchard gate is open. Families stroll among trees fresh-picked or drooping with fruit inviting the hand of a picker or the bill of a bird. They feel spirit-free below the sky’s blue dome, above the good soil, on the grass, in the sunlight.

Children are swallowed by the shadowed depths of the barn as they clamber up and up the staggered bales to the raftered top. They look down at upturned faces, laughing with delight at being above and beyond adult reach. Waving and jostling and tumbling, they bury themselves in the itch and prickle and sweet odour of fresh hay.

A couple ventures out of the festive circle to the flowers and vegetables of the home garden, and past even that to stand on the slope to a jeweled pond with alders ringing it like eyebrows.

To the patio again, and coffee. A broad window invites the eye; an open door invites the feet to walk into a gallery where ceramic vessels grace plinths and shelves. Their forms are elegant or droll, the colours warm, the surface designs crisp and natural.

All the while there is the sun’s ray, the child’s laughter, the chair’s invitation, and the murmur of comforting conversation.

The day is a pearl, lustrous from its living source.