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Apple Days

October 21, 2009

I do apologize- you will get sick of apple photos by the end of this post. I can’t help it, they’re rich fodder for a girl with a camera. It is now well into fall and edging towards winter in my corner of the world. It is cold in the mornings- nearly always frosty now. The light is not yet here when I wake up and just shy of gone when I get home at the end of the day. It is harder to spend time outside, and hard to feel like the days are long enough for all that needs to be done.

I have been particularly busy with work this fall- lots of changes are on the horizon and transition is never easy for me. And so moments of quiet are especially dear to me. Like this Sunday when hubby and I went on a food pilgrimage, of sorts. There is an orchard a couple hours south of here, Champlain Orchards, that grows more apple varieties than anyone else. There are heirloom varieties, traditional cider varieties, apples that are huge, tiny, striped, speckled, beautiful, knobby, ugly, smooth.

We took our time driving down there- this is hard core Vermont farm country. Addison county, known for its richly productive clay soils and relatively flat fields (which means rolling hills, in this state), is a lovely New England landscape- intensively farmed, rural, pastoral. The landscape is mostly open ag land with forests around the edges. Our corner of Vermont is the opposite. A background of forest interspersed with agriculture. So it felt like we were leaving our territory.

Arriving at the orchard, we picked up a map and headed out into the rows of trees. There wasn’t a lot to choose from; its a bit late in the apple season. It was cold, windy, beautiful. This orchard was nearly deserted. Set along a west-facing hill, the Adirondack mountains were clearly visible across the lake. This is what people must think of when they think of Vermont in the fall.

And so we tasted our way through this orchard, landing on snowapple, Cox’s orange pippin, and liberty. A peck of apples now in our garage, for eating every day at lunch and on my ride home from work. Unhappily, apples make my stomach hurt sometimes and trying dozens of varieties that day to figure out what we wanted to take home was not exactly the thing to leave me feeling hale and hearty. But I love the idea of them so much that I mostly try to forget about that when I’m eating them and this weekend, especially, I was willing to make the sacrifice in the name of autumn.

So in these days of unsettling change, reduced day length, and cold temperatures, I’m taking color and sweetness where I can. This weekend, it was in an apple orchard in Shoreham, Vermont. I hope you’re finding your own sweetness these days.

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