story & photo
by Anna Trusky
Strains of the Andrews Sisters’ close-harmony classic “Don’t Sit under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me)” wafted on the warm breeze as residents from the Groton Regency Center visited Whittle’s Willow Spring Farm in Mystic on September 21. Although technically the last day of summer, it was for all intents and purposes a fine fall afternoon at the farm, which invited Regency folks to pick apples for their annual Apple Festival held on September 24. The festival features foods such as apple sauce, baked apples, and candy apples, as well as games like bobbing for apples, explained Nicole Sweet, a Recreation Assistant at the Regency.
Nicole and her coworker Amy Mullins wheeled and walked their charges across the bumpy, stone-laden orchard toward trees groaning with green Granny Smiths, a field of vine-ripe orange pumpkins twinkling in a nearby field. The residents beamed as they soaked up the sunlight and scoped out the fruit-rich trees.
“We have a very active bunch of girls who take us to wonderful places like this,” said Arlene Lubchansky, originally of New London, who is living at the Regency while she recuperates from a broken hip. “Without these young women, we wouldn’t get to come out and see this. They are great.”
Barbara Anderson, who grew up in Groton, was thrilled to have the opportunity to go apple-picking at Whittle’s. “This is really something,” she said. “I was so surprised when I learned we were coming here!”
Sandy Antalek, who hailed from Chicago, and Theresa Mason, a native of Jamaica, N.Y., expressed their delight at being out in the fresh air. “This reminds me of when I used to go to Scott’s to pick blueberries,” stated Gary Bradford, who used to live in East Lyme before moving into the Regency.
Amy held some branches down for Lucille Robbins, a feisty gal who was born and raised in New Orleans, who selected an apple to pick. “I married a Yankee who was in the Navy,” she said. “My grandson lives here. I used to come here every year and pick apples!”
Catherine Hicks, originally from Detroit, moved to the area four years ago to live near her daughter and family. With Nicole’s help, she gingerly pulled a low-hanging apple from its stem. “This is the first time I’ve been here,” she said. Catherine was given the important job of holding the apples after her friends picked them, and she didn’t mind a bit!
As they gathered apples, some of the residents chimed in with a cheerful rendition of the wartime Andrews Sisters song about the famous apple tree. After all the apples were picked and placed in a wooden crate, Nicole and Amy praised everybody for a job well done. “You did good—you picked a lot of apples!” said Amy. Judging by the grins all around, a great time was had by all!
Click here for more on the Gigantic Pumpkin at Whittle’s Willow Spring Farm!