Even if the grocery ad wasn't telling me "New Crop Washington Royal Gala" apples were in and on sale for 88 cents a pound, I would know it was "that time of year". It's the difference in the light; not only where the sun is coming up and setting but the shorter days and longer nights.
It is the beginning of my favorite season of the year, Autumn. I even love the way the word sounds - like a sigh, Ahh-tum. Some of my favorite childhood memories involved trips to the apple orchard - going with my parents and grandparents to an orchard somewhere in southern Iowa or northern Missouri and coming home with bushels of apples, as well as a gallon or two of apple cider. I remember the orchard owners offering samples of the cider and thinking how good it was. Then on the way home Grandma Delphia showing us how she ate an apple - everything but the stem! Even the seeds! (The only other person I've known to eat an apple that way is my husband.)
When my grandchildren were little I tried sharing the same kind of experiences with them, taking them to apple orchards and pumpkin patches.
|Zachary, Alyssa, Katrina and Toffee|
Not only were the orchards a place to buy apples, they were a source of family entertainment. I remember taking these three to the Happy Apple Orchard between Cumming and Norwalk when they were around the ages pictured above. It was probably the first time I had seen 'train' cars made out of steel drums being pulled by a lawn tractor. We also enjoyed a hay rack ride out through the apple trees and along side a pond.
My favorite adult apple orchard adventure took place about twenty years ago when I was living in West Des Moines. Very early in the morning (six a.m.) one fine autumn day, I picked up my friend Kristina. She came to the car with a large thermos of coffee which lasted us the hour and a half down I-35 and across 34 to my Mom's house. Mom had more coffee brewed and the Oatie Cakes ready to go on the griddle. Kristina laughed as she challenged me to a contest to see who could eat the most pancakes. She won, though I won't say how many we ate that morning. Mom's Oatie Cakes are still my favorite pancakes and became a favorite of Kristina's and her brother David, too. He serves them at his north woods cabin in Wisconsin.
A hearty breakfast with Mom was just the start of our day. Once the dishes were done we headed toward Griswold and our first stop, the Glen Robin Orchard. At that time the orchard was already sixty plus years old having been established by R.F. Chambers in 1930. It continues today with new owners and under the name 3 Bee Farms specializing in apples and honey as well as other produce and pumpkins and agritourism.
Before leaving Griswold we stopped at a grocery store for bread, cheese and other lunchables. We planned to eat our picnic at Cold Springs State Park but just north of Griswold we happened upon Cocklin's Fish Farm which is where this picture was taken. I believe the fish farm was a county park at that time as well as being an RV campgrounds and fishing farm. We didn't do any fishing but we did enjoy our lunch at one of their picnic tables under the shade of a venerable oak tree before driving on to Cold Springs State Park.
We also drove out to the Hitchcock House west of Lewis. I had read about the sandstone house built by the Reverend George B. Hitchcock in 1859 - how it had been used as a stop on the Underground Railroad - and was hoping to see the secret room in the basement where runaway slaves had hidden out. Unfortunately the house that day still looked much like this picture; it had yet to undergo restoration and become the National Historic Landmark it is today. We walked around and peeked through the windows but didn't enter.
That perfect autumn day ended with us driving Mom back home followed by our trip back to our homes in West Des Moines. But just the mention of Glen Robin orchard reminds me of one more memory.
I wonder if my little brother remembers this one or if my memory of what year it was is off and he was already in school? My memory is of Mom & Dad making a trip to the Glen Robin orchard for apples after we had the '55 Plymouth which we got in '57. It involved Dad's 'lead foot' and a speeding ticket on the way home. I'm sure Mom had been telling him to "slow down". Those apples were always referred to as "the most expensive bushel of apples Dad ever bought".
I'm feeling like a trip to an apple orchard is in order.