Ah, September. The start of the academic year. The chance of some good weather, or at least better than August. The meteorological start of autumn, my favourite season, which signifies the bringing in of the harvest; for me that’s apples, pears and late-developing peaches.
However, the days of hovering under a tree in flip flops, wearing shorts, tee-shirt and sun glasses, with outstretched cupped hands and an over-enthusiastic penchant for apple crumble have long gone. Too many pairs of glasses have been bent or shattered, and too many cuts and wasp stings have been accumulated to treat this autumn activity so flippantly. These days it’s a two-man job requiring a ladder, a risk assessment and essential rules and equipment. You want to pick some apples? OK, give me 10 minutes…
…Hard hat – protection from falling, or carelessly-dropped, fruit
…Tinted goggles – protection from blindness while staring directly into the sun while DH points very specifically at something invisible to your watering eye asking ‘What about this one?’
…Heavy-duty protective gloves – essential when catching or picking up fruit containing wasps
…Fishing net – an invaluable piece of apparatus which can be wielded from the ground or the ladder. Be aware of its load capacity, particularly if DH is operating it from the ladder (see Hard hat)
…Steel toe-capped boots (see Hard hat)
…Protective clothing –
- Prevents arms being torn to shreds while climbing higher up the ladder into the tree with the fishing net;
- Avoids tearing the favourite tee-shirt put on that morning in anticipation of a leisurely breakfast and a stroll round the garden looking at fruit on trees
- Keeps clothes free of bits of bark and dead wood that inevitably accompany a spot of fruit-picking
- Avoids the frequent and uncomfortable discoveries of the above in nooks and crannies during subsequent days
Velvety, fuzzy peaches, with a slight wrinkling of the skin, look ready to pick and may feel soft to the touch, but not when received at 10 mph
Ripe or not, quinces are always hard and can break a pair of glasses with one glancing blow
Beware of that last perfect golden pear with a rosy hue, just out of reach but begging to be picked – it will probably be just skin and wasps.