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I fondly recall mention of Johnny Appleseed back in my own childhood days. Over time, though, I forgot that Johnny Appleseed was actually a real person. Instead, I came to think of him as a Pecos Bill or John Bunyan type of character; more legend than history. One of my recent library finds was an old book on the man, and it was as revelatory as it was boring. It was boring in so far as the book was written in a style that was as dry as could be. It was completely matter of fact on the subject of a very bizarre and complex man. Though I wanted to regal my son with the biography of this colorful individual, I felt that I was torturing him with the over dull story book with very busy pictures. Fortunately, I came across Shelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & Legends video series. The series borders on the hokey, and it’s filled with puns (yawn). However, it is honestly a fun video to watch. Martin Short’s presentation really brought this complicated man to life, and my son was captivated by the man’s struggles with nonconformity and wanting to belong. It’s definitely worth half an hour or so of your life.

Steven Kellogg's Johnny Appleseed

Steven Kellogg's Johnny Appleseed

Shelley Duvall's Tall Tales & Legends

Shelley Duvall's Tall Tales & Legends

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I debated over whether or not to toss the apples into the backyard for squirrels to eat. However, I made a last minute decision to create apple crisp. What a mistake. My son had a ball cutting, pouring, and mixing various ingredients. Unfortunately, he is quite used to processed food. The resulting mush–though quite tasty–was a bit too unappetizing in appearance for him to try. He literally begged NOT to eat the crisp. LOL. I must admit that the mushy, beige appearance overpowered the taste factor, and I ended up tossing out all but a small batch of the concoction.

Making Apple Crisp

Making Apple Crisp


The Thrill is Gone

The Thrill is Gone

Well, it’s time to put our apples to work. Thanks to LessonPlanet, we had a handy dandy Apple Observation chart all ready to fill out. This chart prompts kids to compare colors, dimensions and taste of various apples. The orchard that we visited had roughly six varieties, so we sacrificed one of each type to science. Sticky notes with numbers were laid out across the table and one apple from each “species” was paired with a number. My son then recorded observations for each apple on the chart.
Apple Science
Apple Science
Apple Science

We are fortunate to live quite near to quite a few apple groves or orchards. Apple picking is apparently a seasonal excursion for many families in the area. We decided to join in the fun and pick apples at a location close to home. First, I was surprised by the sheer cost of apples. They ain’t cheap! Well, they are if you buy them in the store. However, picking one’s own apples is downright exorbitant. Next, I was amazed by the amount of mosquitos and other biting bugs that swarmed around the trees. The bug situation reminded me of camping by a swamp in the summer. Not for me. Finally, the quality of the apples was lacking. That was the biggest disappointment. I apparently suffered from the delusion that handpicked apples would taste exponentially better than store bought apples. However, the handpicked apples we took home were bruised with animal bites and soft spots. Nevertheless, I think this could become a transition. I just have to re-calibrate my expectations for next year.

Hitching a Ride

Hitching a Ride


Apples Galore

Apples Galore


Getting Down to Business

Getting Down to Business


Passing the Smell Test

Passing the Smell Test

Continuing on with the fall theme, I decided to move away from animals to plant life. Birds (and other migrating creatures) had some appeal, but it was limited. There was no immersive experience to be had with the birds and similar, because there was simply no way to taste, touch, listen to and/or smell them. My son is very hands on, so we needed something that he could really experience on a up close and personal level. Apples (and trees by extension) seemed like a great fit. We basically segued from one theme to another under the premise that plants also undergo changes during the fall season. Fruits come into fruition. Harvest occurs. The plants power down, and then a dormant phase ensues much like migration in animals. Sounded plausible!