Tuesday, October 27

Late Apples

"We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples."
                     -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

With only a week or two to go in the season, we have started picking all the later season apples.  The Mutsu, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious are some of the last apples to ripen.  With lots of apples still scattered here and there waiting to be picked for cider, morale of the crew felt low at the beginning of this past week.  Cider apples are traditionally all those apples that were either not big enough or red enough to be picked and sold as "fancy".  They are often scattered around a tree most of them on the inside and hard to reach.  All this does not make for very good picking when only cider apples are left.  With the first two days of last week dedicated to cleaning up several different orchards of Empires, Cortlands, Macouns and Galas picking the remainders of all for cider, the promise of the late season apples was still only a promise.  Come Wednesday morning after an all night rain, I awoke to a foggy morning, one of the only ones I have had here.  Hoping for a late start in order to let the trees dry out, pickers slowly made there way down to the kitchen to get that first cup of coffee.  Waiting for the roasted potatoes and fritata to be ready, standing out in the cool blanket of fog, the word came; we were headed for the Mutsus.    
An apple I have never picked until this season, the Mutsu was always promised by veteran pickers to be a great apple to pick, and for an apple picker that usually means a large apple that fills the bin quickly and doesn't bruise to easily.  The morning wasn't ideal, the fog held in the moisture, sometimes seeming to make the trees wetter rather than dryer.  Every time you would reach for an apple, you would be showered with drops of water cupped in all the leaves on the branches above you.
By the early afternoon, the clouds began to clear and the sun burned through.  It was good picking and nobody seemed to really want to go to lunch, for me, lunch ended up being an apple as I sat on my picking bucket taking a break.  The promise had had been fulfilled, the Mutsus were a great apple to pick.  
As the bins filled the day moved forward and the sun fell lower in  the sky.  By the late afternoon we had moved to long east/west rows.  As the sun reached the horizon I could peer down the row at one of the more beautiful sunsets I have seen since I have been here.  Each time I returned to my bin to dump another bucket of apples into the bin, it seemed as though the colors had gotten a little deeper and more brilliant, till finally it began to fade, as did the light.  By this time bins were being topped off and hands rubbed together as the chilly night air moved in with the deepening of dusk.  After seeing my breath, I knew I was glad to be heading back to the bunkhouse for some hot food and a good dark beer.    



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