It's been so long since I've had a nice pink sky in my backyard. I'd forgotten how beautiful it can be.
I was startled several times today by the sound of rustling leaves followed by a soft thump. At first I thought there was an animal, then realized that it is apples falling from the trees. August 15th and the ground is already strewn with fruit.
I am missing Heidi and Pepper - my two goat friends - a lot these days, realizing how effectively they kept the ground clear. They were so fat and happy this time of year. Maybe I should gather up a few bushels full and go visit them.
The smell of softened apples is in the air as I walk, inevitably crushing a few of the little round fruits as I pass by. It reminds me of an idyllic fall college weekend long ago when I visited the apple farm that belongs to J's brother, who was not yet my brother-in-law at the time. Crisp fall air of New England, bright blue days, and taking some small part in the physical labor of a farming operation all left a permanent mark on me.
In addition to a lot of hauling of apple boxes, I spent several hours working at the cider press - spraying a crushed apple mush onto burlap lined racks in a stack, then turning on the hydraulic press, immersed in the feel and smell and sound of squashed apples. The brown stains on my fingers at the end of the day made me feel strangely proud.
My brother-in-law's apple farm is still humming along in New Hampshire, though this year's crop may be a total loss because of the early bloom followed by a frost last spring. I hope they'll be able to salvage at least some percentage. Never have I tasted an apple or fresh cider that can rival his, but maybe I'm biased.