Friday, October 2, 2009

Forgotten Trees and Winter cuts in

Winter is making her appearance and
there is nothing anyone can do to prevent her arrival.

She is tapping Autumn on the shoulder saying...

"Thank you my dear. I WILL be cutting in now."

Autumn's dance this year was short and sweet.
Now she has to find her shoes and her handbag and make her way home.

David and I are also hoping to skip out of here as soon as possible
so that we can start on our next adventure in
*? *

before Winter makes it hard to get around.

As I am writing I have some lentil soup in a pot upstairs for lunch and I can hear the stove popping behind me. Yes… that would be the wood stove. The weather has definitely taken a turn and it has been a struggle getting the temperature to break a high of 50 degrees the last few days. As for the low here is what my little weather widget told me a couple mornings ago:


That's ok. Really it is.

None... I repeat none of the plants I put into the ground came up this spring / summer as it never got quite warm enough at night, and never got quite enough water during the day. Bad gardening year up here apparently. However, even with the cold and the onset of winter, I have to say I think that autumn may be my favorite season.

The colors have changed and leaves are starting to fall. Every where you turn you are surrounded by tones of rusts, yellows, greens, browns, and reds.

A fallen leaf is nothing more
than a summer’s wave good bye

It looks like a fiesta and in many parts of the world this is the time to relax and enjoy the past year's toil. The spring and summer long nurturing of crops is finally over; it is time to bring in the food, and settle in for the long wait through winter until spring. There is lots of partying going on this time of year and the vibrant mixed colors of the surrounding landscape just seems to lend a lovely d├ęcor to the partying attitude.

(I bet she dances that little deer right into the freezer!)

Speaking of parties, David is on a group email address list for one of his friends... we will lovingly call him Napa Valley Matt. Well, Napa Valley Matt sent us an invitation for an Oktoberfest party in St. Helena. Folks are to bring their dancing boots, a flashlight, and you are assigned a dish depending on the initial in your name. Oh yes and since it is an Oktoberfest there will be beer and since it is in the wine country... well, there will be wine. It sounded like great fun and if we happened to be in the wine country in the next couple of weeks we would definitely join in. And for those of you who don’t know… in case you are feeling bad for those California folks and their year round sunshine? There still are visible seasons and the wine country is as beautiful in the fall as it is the rest of the year.

Halloween time back home is fun as well. While I have never gotten my act together in time to go, an old work buddy and his wife have a Halloween party each year and I love hearing and seeing the photos of the costumes people wear each year. I am sure they will have another this year for which I bet they are plotting and planning right now. I can not wait until November to find out the details!

However, along with the celebrations Autumn is also a time of year that makes people contemplative and maybe even a bit blue.

I suppose it is the odd contrast of the joy of harvest and the melancholy of the year coming to an end. Maybe our response is a reflection of what is happening in nature. The riot of color that we see and enjoy in the leaves and plants... is actually occurring because the leaves are dying. A cycle is coming to a close. Happiness, relaxation, contemplation, ...death. Some pretty heavy emotions. That is probably the reason we have several universally themed type holidays coming up in the next month or so...

Man oh man I just love Halloween!

Roman goddess of Fruit Trees

The Forgotten Trees

Good grief. Pomona must love the U.P. because everywhere you go when driving around the countryside there are apple trees.

Apples everywhere growing wild.

When you come across a single apple tree standing alone in the middle of the forest it quite possibly might be a bird turd tree. (technical landscaping term) However, others you can tell were once part of someone’s homestead as there are several trees are still growing in a row. David and I have been driving around in the middle of nowhere and we have seen hidden amongst the maples and pines small abandoned orchards with numerous trees.

The one thing in common this time of year here is that these forgotten trees whether one or fifty is that they are absolutely bent nearly double with apples. Apples that are turning just as fiery red and yellow as the maples that are slowly over-taking them.

As you may or may not know, apples have quite a history... from the story of the Garden of the Hesperides, the Isle of Avalon (probably from the Celtic word abal: apple), the Norse myth that apples provide eternal youth, the Judgment of Paris, Atalanta's race, Hercules' 11th trial, and then of course there were these two characters.

Sometimes the apple's history was good, sometimes not so good...
It sure got Paris into a whole lot of trouble.

Either way this fruit has been around a long time, and I can see why. These forgotten trees are survivors. The house belonging to the person who planted the trees may have long since disappeared back into the earth. Any remaining barns, wagons, horses, or even automobiles might also be found buried somewhere under these tree's boughs. To be honest, not only has the sower of the seed probably long since returned to the earth as well… it might be a good bet that so has his or her descendants. Yet the apple trees continue to grow and give fruit. They thrive even when there is no one left to pick them. No one that is but the birds, deer, squirrels, and bears.

So, in honor of the resilient apple... and the buckets of apples filling the pantries of all our neighbors... I have included my mother's apple cake recipe below.

Very tasty, very easy, great for home and potluck alike.

The rules are follow the recipe once, then adapt as you like in future bakings. ::wink::
I don't quite use the whole amount of sugar but I eyeball it anyway
so you are going to have to figure it out for you

Apple cake
First batch mix in this order stirring with a fork:
1 egg
1 cup sugar
2 cups rough chopped Granny Smith apples
½ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup oil
Second batch mix in a separate bowl:
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.

Add the dry mix from the bowl into the apple mix and stir well. This will be thick and it might seem like there are too many apples and not enough batter… that is just the right consistency. Pour into 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan spreading with spatula. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. This recipe easily doubled to put into a 9 x 13 pan. (Granny Smith apples are the bright green tart apples.... I know I know ! That is not a granny smith in the picture. I just had used them all so did not have one to photo.)

I am rich today with autumn's gold,
All that my covetous hands can hold;
Frost-painted leaves and goldenrod,
A goldfinch on a milkweed pod,
Huge golden pumpkins in the field

With heaps of corn from a bounteous yield,
Golden apples heavy on the trees
Rivaling those of Hesperides,
Golden rays of balmy sunshine spread
Over all like butter on warm bread;
And the harvest moon will this night unfold

The streams running full of molten gold.

Oh, who could find a dearth of bliss
With autumn glory such as this!
- Gladys Harp

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