To my kids that means 3 things: Halloween, our annual family vacation to the Central Coast and a trip to Riley's Farm.
We've only been to Riley's once before, but they loved it so much that it instantly became a part of the fall lineup.
We returned this week for our 2nd trip.
They loved it even more this time.
Part of the fun is getting there.
Once you get off the freeway, that is.
Riley's Farm is a 1.5 hour trip, roughly, from LA or Orange County.
You're headed toward the dessert and can't imagine how apple trees could be growing out in that barren landscape.
But to get to Riley's you travel uphill just enough to get out of the desert and into low mountain elevations.
There are open fields.
We saw deer and a coyote.
There are mountain peaks overhead, small, running streams, snow in the winter and lots and lots of apple trees.
Riley's Farm is located in Oak Glen, a small community with a long history in apples.
There are other apple farms in Oak Glen.
But we don't even pick apples at Riley's.
We do their frontier school program.
It's a really great time.
After an introduction by the farm owners, some history of the farm and some folk songs accompanied by the banjo and wash bucket base, the group heads up to the log cabin.
The cabin was made by wood cut on the farm and it's the real deal.
The kids can go inside and imagine what it was like for Laura and Mary in their Little House in the Big Woods.
This place makes the literature we read come alive.
We spend the next hour or so, working around the cabin, doing the chores that one would have to do during a typical day as a frontier settler.
We start a fire for coffee and tea.
There's a pump for the water.
And the kids crush the beans for coffee.
They can take a tun at the saw.
Then stack wood at the wood pile.
There are apples to core and peel.
And then strung to dry.
There are clothes to wash.
And hung to dry.
Inside the cabin,
You can write with a quill pen and real ink.
There are other crops besides apples to harvest.
And to water.
All of those things are fun, but the boys are really waiting for one thing.
Their favorite activity, hands down, is the log cabin.
They build it themselves.
It's like a giant set of lincoln logs.
And the walls go higher and higher, until the biggest boys can no longer reach.
Then they stand inside, pleased as punch, with what they made.
Just like Pa when he built the house for Ma and the girls when they settled on the Kansas frontier.
By the time we're through at the cabin, we've worked up and appetite, so we head down to the picnic tables under the trees to eat lunch.
There's still lots more to do in the afternoon.
I'll post part 2 on Monday.
Happy weekend, friends!