about bliss

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

apple weekend

Eating warm slices of fresh banana bread, one after the next, and sipping a mug of honey-scented assam black tea, I make my peace with the cool temps and rainy skies at the close of this autumnal day. I officially bid summer adieu on a breezy Sunday afternoon at Lake Michigan, where the warm temps were tempered with a stiff wind, blowing the water into rolling waves...

I watch the green beans begin to take on rust spots, the zucchini finally beginning to fade, and the corn on the cob giving up the last of its sweetness. I start introducing fall foods like apples and cauliflower, though there must be another peach pie and jar of sun-lit raspberry jam before the month is out...

Last weekend I ventured west to enjoy a lazy-busy weekend with my parents and my best friends. Saturday morning S and I joined a small crowd in running the Mt. Baldhead Challenge, a race known for the brutal 15K, featuring climbing rickety stairs up a sand dune. We opted for the tamer 5K, and both ran well. S achieved a PR, and I actually placed 3rd in my age group, only 4 seconds slower than my PR.

L and H joined us, and we filled the car with laughter as we drove to Fennville for apple splendor. Before we hit the orchards, we dined at the Journeyman Cafe. This lovely spot embodies all that is best about the slow food movement--emphasis on sustainable, seasonal foods. I enjoyed an omelet of herbs, pickled red onions, and chevré, as well as cups of Intelligentsia coffee with cream and raw sugar. The space is simple, with an urban rustic appeal of iron benches, white paper covered tables, and water glasses that resemble the classic terra cotta pot shape. The walls are lined with artwork from local artists, including oil paintings of Lake Michigan scenes, as well as drawings of cakes (my favorites!).

We then ventured into the madness that is Crane’s Orchards on Honey Crisp weekend. These new hybrids are sweeping the nation, and we received a mini-lecture about not tossing out perfectly good though slightly cosmetically blemished fruit, from one of the farmers. We strutted down the well-manicured rows and gathered the weighty fruit.

Next we headed deeper into the country to find Ever Green Lane farms, a small organic orchard that’s everything Crane’s isn’t: unmanicured, wild, experiential, and as close to non-commercial as a farm could get. I forgot to double check the address and so we drove up and down roads until we asked for directions and pointed ourselves in the right direction. The farmers remembered us from last year! We strolled past the free range chickens and headed to the small, unruly orchard. The farmer urged us to taste fruit, to drop any apples that didn’t meet our expectations, and to take our time gathering the best fruit. He told us to watch for poison ivy, and left us to traverse the orchard on our own. Battling our fears of poison ivy, we gathered sacks of apples and headed back up to the barn to buy cider and end our apple picking portion of the weekend.

Our day concluded where it began, in the quaint town of Saugatuck, where we enjoyed tasty treats and salty snacks at Uncommon Grounds, and pizza perfection at Marro’s. I splurged on a glass of Pinot Noir with my pizza, which necessitated giving up the keys to my car to S, who ferried us safely to my parents’ home. My friends all took off, and I spent a quiet evening with Mom and Dad.

Sunday was a day of rest, despite a long walk in the woods at a park near my parents’ home. I enjoyed the sunshine and 80 degree temps, certain that this was the last such day for awhile. I savored the summery breezes and tried to keep my tears at bay. Summer will come again, though never this particular summer...next summer will bring new challenges as my career plans may shift dramatically...H and P will be the proud parents of baby S...and who knows what changes we’ll all witness before the next season of halcyon, seemingly endless days, and star-filled warm nights.

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