The outbreak of COVID-19 has been stressful to say the least; wear a mask, work remotely, keep your social circle small, stay at least six feet apart at all times. Families are struggling to stay safe while also considering the effects these rules have on the children. As stated by the Vermont Department of Health, it is important to also remember the importance of socializing when it comes to a child’s development and wellbeing. So, what is there to do outside once the summer has come to an end and the autumn weather begins to get colder and colder? Apple picking!
Apple picking is a cherished fall tradition for a lot of Vermonters. This is why we were thrilled when Happy Valley Orchards invited mentors and mentees to pick their own apples. In order to maintain social distancing for our group’s health and safety, mentoring pairs were able to visit the orchard at their own convenience during a two-week window (prime apple picking time, of course!).
During their visit, each mentoring pair picked a peck of different apples such as McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, and Vermont Gold. Naturally, the pairs could not leave without also tasting Happy Valley’s heavenly cider donuts and fresh apple cider. This safe, socially distant connection between the mentor and mentee was long overdue; mentors explaining that the time they spent together at the orchard was so special because it had been a long time since they were able to connect in person.
“J and I went apple picking today. It was beautiful and we had a lovely time together. It was SO good to connect. J was a little shy at first, as it has been a LONG time since we have seen each other, but after a while, it felt as though no time at all had passed. Thank you for making the apple picking a possibility.”
“I met R at Happy Valley Orchards and we had a delightful time picking apples and catching up. It was really special to be able to see R for an extended period of time.”
“When I picked up T, T’s Mom and I chatted about guidelines for our visit to the apple orchard. T talked all the way to and from the orchard. I showed him how to take the apples off the tree and he did well. T was happy and engaging throughout our time together. He was respectful to the trees in the orchard, carefully twisting to remove apples from each. It was just wonderful seeing and spending time with T again.”
As we head into the winter months and it gets harder to connect with each other safely outdoors, it is these moments that we will cherish and hold on to; our new fall traditions. We will all get through this together.