Every single day of my thirteen school years, I'd eat one, perfectly shaped, perfectly green apple. It didn't matter what day it was, what time of the year it was, or what was going on with the weather, there was an apple in my lunch and I ate it.
And you know what? In all my years of apple eating, I don't think I ever gave much thought to those apples; to how they were grown, or stored, or even transported.
It never occurred to me that apples took an entire year to grow and that there was actually an apple season. I had no idea that many of those school apples would have sat for months and months in cool storage, that some would have travelled across the globe to get to me, that all would have passed the perfect apple supermarket test and that they would have been sprayed with herbicides and fungicides and sunscreens to protect them from blemishes and nasties. And I certainly never would have given much thought to apple varieties, in my mind there were three; green, red and golden.
I'm also sure that when I bit into my apple at school every day, I never considered the family who grew it. The family who looked after the trees and spent their autumn days carefully filling bags and crates with their delicious crop.
Apples were just apples.
These days my school girls have apples in their lunches for maybe four months of the year. Most of the heritage varieties we grow don't store very well, so the apples they take would have been picked in the past two or three weeks.
These days the apples they eat range from enormous to teeny-weeny and come in a wide range of colours and even shapes. Of the 40 varieties we grow only some are for eating at school, while the others are cookers or for making cider.
These days my girls know exactly where the apple in their lunch box came from, they often know the name of the variety and sometimes even what we were talking about or the games we played while we picked it.
Although the start of autumn always makes me feel sad that the days are getting shorter and colder, it also makes me happy to be at the delicious end of the apple growing season.
Our wonderful orchard trees that slept through winter, grew leaves, blossomed, were pollinated by the bees and set fruit in springtime and put all their energy into growing that fruit over the summer, are finally changing the starches to sugars and loosening their hold, allowing us to pick and enjoy the fruits of their year long efforts.
It is a wonderful thing to watch each branch of an apple tree bounce back higher once we have lightened its load of heavy fruit. It is an incredible feeling to feed our family fruit we have grown and the knowledge and stories of how we came to grow it.
Happy apple season!