Sunday, September 27, 2015

apple picking at home

Decades ago, someone planted an orchard in our backyard.  We have a number of old heritage apple trees, probably planted along with a Victory Garden in support of the war efforts, raising food at home.  Some years these old trees produce fruit.  Some years they do not.  And most years, the apples fall before they ripen.  This year, this pre-ripe descent happened to one of the trees during the strong winds of a thunderstorm.  And I missed the apples that fell from an enormous old scraggly tree down on the river bank. I spotted squirrels and groundhogs scurrying past me with a large and gorgeous green apples in their mouths, ferrying them someplace to keep for the winter.  And knew I had missed my chance with that tree this year.  But one tree, miraculously, held on to its apples.

And there they are.

Fourteen feet up.  

Red and flawless and so enticing.  

And completely unreachable.

I decided to attempt to address the situation this weekend, when Nicholas and Elliott were both home and playing weird soccer, as they have named it, in the yard.  Hint: Tennis racquets play an integral role. So I rounded them up and told them I needed them to climb some trees for me.

They were well fed at the time and remarkably willing to help me out.

Nicholas was first up in the tree.

While Elliott, height disadvantaged, struggled a bit.

It didn't take long for us to all realize that there was really no way to reach those apples in such a manner.  The branches were too thin and the apples were too high.  And soon, inspired by one mastered tree, I lost Nicholas to his quest for more trees to climb, reminded of just how fun this could be.  Especially when the alternative was to go inside and practice his guitar.

I called to him, mentioned fetching a ladder from the barn, but eventually gave up.  He was enjoying himself.  So was Millie.

Elliott tried his best to solve the problem.  With a stick and a good deal of silliness.

I googled "long pole apple baskets."  Scratched my head.  And looked down.  And decided to cut my losses.  They were red.  Not flawless.  But reachable.

On his way in to do homework, I enlisted Nicholas once more.  Sirius did his best Blueberries for Sal reenactment.

Nicholas and Jonathan plunked these apples down in the kitchen next to the potatoes, also awaiting their proper storage and preservation.

And Elliott and I got to work.

The first batch is being made into apple butter, and as I write this it is stewing away in my slow cooker.  I am using an "a little bit of this and a little bit of that recipe," a combination of these ingredients with a bit of these flavors infused and Marisa's process.  It smells heavenly, and Elliott is hopeful that it will be ready for him when he returns home from school tomorrow.

We'll see.

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