Tales of the Hunts: A prime example of trademark Appalachian Ingenuity

Published 8:00 am Thursday, October 4, 2018

Walking through an apple orchard with the cool breeze blowing through the trees is the traditional act to welcome fall for our family.

Driving up the “Blue Wall,” with dreams of big Mutsu’s and Fuji’s dancing in my head, I know that cool weather will soon be the norm. As the colors race from the top of the Blue Ridge to the Foothills, we head the opposite way to fill baskets with green and red spheres of deliciousness.

Our children are much less romantic concerning the idea of apple picking. The inevitable question is always asked, “What are we going to do there?”

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Most apple orchards realize that picking apples will keep a kid’s attention for about 10 minutes. That’s probably why they have kid-friendly activities set up around the apple barn activities that are prime examples of “Appalachian Ingenuity.”

Take, for example, a corn maze. I don’t know the exact origins, but it more than likely came from kids saying to their dad, “I’m bored”.

The dad probably threw a ball in a cornfield and said, “Try to find it and not get lost”.

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. So, when the kids figured out corn was planted in rows, a winding path was cut to make it harder.

While the corn maze is somewhat elaborate, a simpler example of Appalachian Ingenuity is playing on a hay bale. I can see one of these orchards wisely saying, “I don’t want to build a playground that will only be used for three months. Let’s just pile up some big hay bales and let them climb on ‘em. Hey, while we are at it, lay some of those extra plastic pipes down and they can crawl through them.”

This stroke of genius is evident after an hour when you have tired and happy kids passed out on the drive home. The smile on your kids’ face is only rivaled by a trip to Disney, but at 1/1000th the cost.

At our most recent trip, though, there was an activity that would never surface in Walt Disney’s brilliant mind. An activity that is the finest example of Appalachian Ingenuity that I have ever seen. It combines our region’s love for the gifts of nature and the enjoyment of making our “Hey y’all watch this” ideas come to fruition.

These two pastimes fueled the fire, I believe, to make the apple cannon.

These overbuilt metal weapons of old fruit hurl apples with great speed at targets down range. Kids young and old smiled with delight as that old Jonagold smashed into the metal target with a clang. Apple after apple went down range with cheers and laughs that drowned out the rumble of the air compressor in the distance.

Appalachian Ingenuity has deep roots that stem back to when we were the frontiersmen of a young nation. Just because you are isolated doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.

Even though our world is smaller and people from around the globe visit our area, this is one idea you can’t overpopulate out.

One of our many traits that make our area unique is our Appalachian Ingenuity, or should I say “Apple lauchin’” Ingenuity.