Orchards in Flannel

Orchards in Flannel

Out of all the varieties of apples, I think McIntosh is my forever favorite, I love the names of Northern Spy and Macoun, but the crisp tart taste, and deep reds of a freshly picked McIntosh is hard to beat. This year the apple orchards are laden. Cortlands, Empires, Honeycrisps, Jersey Macs, Jonamacs and more threaten to abandon their branches for the softly bladed ground below, that, in my family, meant they were destined to become cider.

We had the old-fashioned type of cider press, it was wooden, the slats darkened with age like the broadside of an aged barn. We would wash all the apples in the horse trough before feeding them through what I’ll call a grinder, also wooden, then into the press. I was young, so I don’t remember specific details of the process itself, because I didn’t pay much attention to things. Can’t say I always do now. But what I do remember is the soft smell of the loose hay we had upstairs, the rich odor of the lawn mower that had been running and the cut grass trapped in it, the coolness of our barn, the strong sweet scent of the apples, and the droning hum of the yellow jackets circling the offcasts on our compost. It was tradition, until us children grew, and the barn burned a few years ago.

Now, I just pick the apples still on their branches in orchards, bent humbly to the ground, red, yellow, and green-patched-gold apples waiting for steady hands to grab and gently twist their stems from their branches.

I hardly ever go into an orchard with a plan of what apples I want for pies and breads and what ones I want for just every day eating. Yes, I really do eat an apple a day. I simply just pick from every tree, I like a sampling, a smattering of all that’s to offer. To make a good cider or pie you really just need three types of apples, each will compliment each and deepen the flavor. So I wander, pick a couple apples from every type of tree until my bag appears it is bursting at its seams, or I have to carry it at a lopsided waddle.

Close to every year, for as long as I can remember I have gone to apple orchards, some offer pumpkin patches, tractor rides and fall delicacies, ciders and baked goods, others offer just a simple variety of apples, it’s a buyer’s choice. Always however, I wear Vermont Flannel.™ Why? Because they’re soft, warm and cozy. My aunt worked as a stitcher for a number of years at The Vermont Flannel Company, so I have an array of products and I believe they just complete the aesthetic. This year I am thinking the Green Mountain, or Green Buffalo pattern, but we’ll see. Take a look for your own apple adventures for this year, and you never know, we might have a bag that would be perfect for your day as well. Happy picking!

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