MIDDLEFIELD — Families and friends from across the region came to Lyman Orchards over Labor Day weekend to celebrate “Pear-a-palooza,” the opening of the fall season.
Not really. It’s a fun marketing hook, one that ties in nicely to the harvest, but people came out to breathe in the last bit of summer before the leaves turn, school gets going in earnest, the days get shorter, and we have to huddle inside the warmth of our homes.
The orchards were in particular splendor, waves upon waves of teeming trees just begging to be picked. Corn mazes, pony rides, peach cobblers, and live music might have drawn people out on Saturday, but everyone’s heart was in nature.
Milford resident Amy McCarthy gave her almost two-year-old grandson Nathan McCarthy his first pony ride on a blonde horse named Axl Rose.
“He thinks the horse says moo,” McCarthy said.
Each year she and her family take the ride up to Lyman Orchards. There’s nice activities for the kids, and the parents enjoy the food and ambiance.
“We are not going on the moo again,” McCarthy said to Nathan. “We are going to the corn.”
The corn maze is the star of the family activities offered at the orchard. Tim Burt, the farm’s director of marketing and retail operations, expects over 40,000 people will come through the 3.5 acre maze over the course of the fall season. The corn is planted in early spring. Once it reaches the right height (about 12 to 15 feet) it takes six workers a week to carve the maze out of the field, using a GPS to plot out the design. “You get lost in this world of corn,” Burt said.
Larry Prescott, owner of Sievert Dairy Farm on Johnson Avenue in Meriden, was offering hay rides – about 10 minutes up to the old homestead and back. Jake and Duke, two beautiful horses with a combined weight of over 4,800 pounds, were doing the heavy lifting.
Prescott, who was born in northern Vermont and has been working with horses his whole life, can tell you a thing or two about them. Between chatting up the parents and children on the ride and petting his dog, Prescott was gently instructing Samantha Morris, a volunteer at his farm, how to handle the big boys.
“They tell you so much when you watch them,” Prescott said.
One can say that the orchards themselves, located about a mile away from the store on Reeds Gap Road, are the soul of the whole operation. It’s a little quieter, a little calmer. Kids run around a little less – not much though. It’s hard to be boisterous in the face of those green hills and perfect fruit trees.
Norin Ansari and Maliha Tariq posed for pictures among the trees. After a round of photos, they planned to pick some fruit and sunflowers.
“We came today to experience a Connecticut tradition,” Ansari said.
Ansari grew up in Kansas and came out to New Haven to study at the Yale School of Medicine.
“This is stunningly beautiful. I’m used to it being really flat in Kansas. I spent some time in Rhode Island, so I was used to the water, but this is next level,” Ansari said.
“It’s a nice break from the city,” said Tariq, a Madison native currently studying data science at Columbia University. “It’s relaxing, serene, and scenic.”