My home city of Hasselt lies in the region of Haspengouw, known for its orchards and fruit products–not just fresh apples and pears but also fruit juice and fruit syrup. In the spring, the trees are covered with delicate pink and white blossoms, drawing visitors who flock here to hike and bike through the hills and valleys.
Come fall, the blossoms have transformed into edible gold. One of the pleasures of autumn is bicycling through this pastoral region between trees laden with fruit. It’s not permitted to pick the fruit, of course–but it’s an unspoken rule that fallen fruit, especially after the harvest, is fair game. Picking apples and pears up from the ground and filling one’s bike bag is like finding delicious, edible treasure.
During a recent ride, I spotted a sign for an apple vending machine. I turned down the country lane and found the apparatus sitting in front of a farmhouse, filled with freshly picked apples. These self-service kiosks are often located near bike and walking paths, vending apples, cherries or strawberries in season. Now I know where to go the next time I want new apples during harvest time!