The small suburb of Los Angeles where I spent my youth was a bedroom community with nice plots and manicured front lawns. Children were everywhere and we all seemed to be just about the same age. Most everyone was a transplant from the East or Midwest, so to stave off suburban boredom, our moms would conspire; making plans for treks to the beach, the mountains, the desert, museums, theme parks, and everything in between. A favorite place which was annual event (including the time I had a terrible toothache and was being melodramatic in the back of the station wagon) was what we called Apple Country. It has been over 30 years, but I’ve been chasing the memories ever since.
I am someone who cannot resist (and why should I?) a long country road, a farmstand, or a run-down shack with a hand-lettered sign selling ANYTHING. If it is open, I’m stopping; apple farms included. Freshly pressed cider and warm donuts made with it is a fall treat that everyone should be so lucky to come upon.
We are not an apple farm. We grow apples, but none more than to press for our use and to make the odd batch of donuts or two. Sometimes our neighbors will off load a few tons of fallen fruit for us to feed our pigs; and truth be told we skim off the mildly bruised and press those into juice as well. We have our own small press and it is a handcrafted machine that I, with just a few hours of bending, twisting, and turning, can turn a dozen pecks of apples into gallons of cider. We pull it out Mid-October, and return it to storage by Thanksgiving.
While the act of pressing cider isn’t quite as magical as an outing with neighbors eating apple pie, donuts, ice cream, butter, and cider made by someone else’s hand without any concern of calories or affect, it brings me joy. Through the course of fall, I will make all of the things and I will eat all of the same; just not in one sitting.