As they say, “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” Agreed. I mean, you can, but I’ve learned that it’s generally snot — excuse me — not appreciated. You can, however, pick your friends, you can pick some apples, AND you can pick your friends some apples. Not only is this type of picking socially accepted, but they’ll love you for it! Having been swatted away from one too many of my friends’ noses, I decided to take myself to Bishop’s Orchards this past weekend for some picking — the apple kind.

Sitting on the big flatbed hooked to the back of a tractor, I watched my wee partners in apple-picking crime bobble around as the tractor clumped along a narrow grassy path. Their mouths hung open a bit, and, as they took the world in from the comfort of their moms’ laps, their eyes lit up. Their chubby little hands shot out in front of them, pointing, and they chirped, “Look! Apples!” Duhhhh they’re apples you stupid little kid. We’re APPLE picking.

And then, five minutes later I got off the tractor, went romping into the rows of trees, and I found myself saying, “Ooooh guys, come over here! There are a bunch of apples on this tree!” And this happened with every tree. Because they were APPLE trees. Stupid college kid.

But somehow, even at age 21, there’s something so very exciting about seeing apples in their natural environment. I mean, apple picking is kind of like a jungle safari, but with fruit. And instead of creeping along in a khaki-colored Jeep, you get to clunk along in a big ol’ tractor. And instead of worrying that something is going to leap out of the trees and bite you, you get to barge into the trees and bite what’s in THEM. Suckahhhh.

Humans really do get a kick out of witnessing things in the “wild,” don’t they? That little voice inside of us never fails to blurt out, “Hey! Look at that!” — whether “that” is a monkey on a jungle safari, or Goofy walking around Disney World, or last semester’s political science professor wearing jeans and a baseball cap in Shaw’s.

And I think, with regard to apples anyway, that this excitement stems (no pun intended … okay, FINE, it was) from that age-old proverb, “A is for apple.” Bear with me here. We’ve all seen the picture: a bright red, perfectly shaped apple with a smiley-faced worm popping out of a geometrically perfect hole in the center of the fruit. And when you’ve seen a picture of something, and then you get to see it in real life, THAT’S exciting. I got to see Hootie and the Blowfish a few weeks ago. That ruled. Seeing all those apples, just hanging out in clusters on gnarly trees (YES, just like the ones in the “Wizard of Oz,” for those of you who were wondering) gave me a similar thrill.

Not only do we get a thrill because we’ve seen the picture, but there’s a certain amount of nostalgia stirred up as well, isn’t there? Everyone FLIPPED out when Hootie sang “Hold My Hand,” not because it’s a great song (which it is) but because it takes you back. And similarly, we all know there are tastier and more interesting fruits than apples, but they take us back to the simple days of childhood. Days when applesauce was one of the only foods we could eat, when apples meant the color red, and when we drank apple juice out of sippy cups to wash down animal crackers at day care. From the age of five, A has always been for apple. What is B for? You don’t know, do you? But there’s no doubt in your mind that A is for apple. It’s ironic that apple-picking, the very act which cost Eve her innocence, can reconnect us with our own spotless youths … dontcha think? … a little too ironic?

Sorry, I had to go there.

Seriously though, I could not recommend a better autumn afternoon activity than apple-picking. Maybe I enjoyed myself so much because it’s always fun to play outside in the fall. Or maybe because I really needed to get away from campus for a bit — a sentiment I’m sure we’re all feeling this midterm season. Or, perhaps more likely, because the throes of senior year have me clinging to anything remotely connected to childhood and craving any type of excitement that’s as pure and simple and obtainable as a shiny red apple dangling from a tree branch.

In any case, go apple picking. And vote for John Kerry.

Liz Kinsley repeatedly tries to pick her editors’ noses.