On Friday I clocked out of work at the home, farm and auto supply store for four days off in a row!
I drove straight home, dumped the coleslaw I made in the morning into a bowl and mixed it up one last time before the potluck. I grabbed a pair of tongs for serving and headed to the orchard for the 6 p.m. event.
The annual crew potluck is our biggest and only non-work event at Wilson’s Orchard.
About 80 people attended at the on-site Rapid Creek Cidery, bringing the best side dishes imaginable to go along with chef Matt Stiegerwald’s braised pork from hogs raised at the orchard’s farm.
We joked we weren’t sure if we were supposed to bring potluck table service. A veteran of many church potlucks brought a basket with plates, silverware, glasses and everything one would need. Most of us used paper plates and flatware. I enjoyed a glass of plain hard cider as aperitif before switching to non-alcoholic.
When serving began, I made a southern-themed plate with pork, my coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, dumplings and raw tiny carrots. One of countless possibilities given the many tables of side and desserts. All that was lacking was corn bread but it was a potluck after all.
My work pals were all there: the octogenarian who makes dinosaurs and showed off the scar from his recent knee surgery to all who were curious; the pilot who recounted his air-search for the other orchard, which he couldn’t find until I gave directions from ground level; the artist who gave a speech about entering the drawing for fabulous prizes mostly from the Orchard’s lost and found (think sunglasses); the data analyst who is sharp as a tack yet made a six-figure error on the cash register; the Ukrainian guest workers; and the crew of bakers with their families — it takes a lot of bakers to make all the turnovers, pies, apple and peach crisps and blueberry buckles we sell. The sales barn manager was there. She works non-stop from before the August opening until the end of the season. Actually just about everyone was there. Needless to say the conversations and meal, with a chance to win prizes, were delicious. That’s no apple joke.
We talked about when we might see each other again and confirmed that God willing and the creek don’t rise we would be back next year. My only regret was it wouldn’t be soon enough. Heaven help us if it’s not until next season.