No matter how many times I've made the mistake, I continue to make it year after year. Somehow, I wait until Columbus Day weekend to make the suggestion that we gather up for a family day of good, old fashioned New England apple picking.

And every year we are met with the same predicament: we pile into the car and ride out to the orchard only to find out that we're weeks too late. We are faced with a sparse selection of whatever leftover apples are still available. We walk through the orchard and find more apples rotting on the ground than ready to be picked off the trees. The best-case scenario is buying a bag of apples at the farm stand.

This year, my vow is to somehow plan an excursion during peak apple picking time. I want the whole experience. I'm going full Clark Griswold on this. I want the red-and-black checkered flannel shirt. I want the L.L. Bean boots. I want sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s, and I want 100 percent participation and engagement from the kids. This is going to be an Instagram moment for the ages.

But the key element to all of this is timing. I can tell you that my mom and sister brought my daughter apple picking this past weekend in Maine, but it was a few weeks too early. Few of the apples were properly ripened. Most of the Macintosh apples that they picked were more green than red.

I called around to a number of SouthCoast orchards to find out about when we can go apple picking. Keith Farms in Acushnet told me that they plan on opening for apple picking on September 19. Pocasset Orchards in Dartmouth will not be opening this year because the owner is advancing in age. Dartmouth Orchards told me that they will not be allowing apple picking this season due to COVID-19, but that their farm-fresh apples will be available at the farmstand.

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