Despite everything I suspected to be true about American Folk Heroes, it turns out that Johnny Appleseed was an actual person. And not only that, but he was roughly from Around My ‘Hood. Now, i’m not going to claim that Alice Hoffman has the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but she does spin a damned good tale and there’s usually some fact at the core. Her stories are Real, in the same way that the Skin Horse knows about “real”.
So what we have, as a result of all this, is a phenomenal plethora of Apple Orchards. We have Apple Orchards of Vermont Life magazine, and we have Apple Orchards from Yankee Magazine. Now, if you ask my Texan friend Nancy what Fall In New England is all about I think the answer there is going to be Pumpkins. Pumpkins, and Winter Squash. Maybe Corn. But that’s because there are only so many things that a Person Over 25 can stuff into four days, and something’s got to give, and in her case, it was the visit to the Apple Orchard.
Apple Orchards, in New England, are a little slice of heaven. Especially the part where you drift in to the farm stand, in the hopes of unthawing the tips of your fingers, and are greeted with the aroma of Fresh Apple Dumplings In The Oven.
I don’t have a lot of personal experience with the Direct Route to heaven, but the small experience I do have suggests that anyone on that path has their footsteps directly supported by the smell of apple dumplings baking in the oven right now. In fact, I’ll go as far as I can on that. Just as much as I don’t want to be frequenting no stinkin’ heavenly paradise that doesn’t accept ALL of my animals, including my 1200 pound Princess Bully, the Wonder Horse, and let me tell you, I wouldn’t be having’ any heaven that doesn’t take my critters…I expect them to be there waiting for me… I am pretty sure that what those Pearly Gates smell like is apple dumplings, baking in the oven right now.
Really, once you have experienced this, you know. There is no better smell anywhere than apple dumplings, baking right now in the oven. Unless, of course, it is the smell of Huey’s mane and neck. I do not include the smell of Huey’s hindquarters on this list, because he gets lazy and doesn’t hike his tail properly to Go when he’s wearing a blanket. Yuk.
Back to the apples. You really cannot swing a cat here without encountering an apple orchard. It might be the incredibly derelict orchard at Tyringham Cobble, that drops rock-hard apples of some indeterminate antique variety, upon the hiking paths. It might be the pick-your-own orchards of the Berkshires, or the horse-draw-hayride-through-the-orchard of Outlook Farms in Westhampton. Or the pick-a-bushel and eat-fresh-dumplings of the orchards up by the Quabbin. Or maybe it’s the Cider Days of Franklin County, and the superb vintages of West County Cider in Colrain, who used to supply Manhattan’s Tavern on the Green before it shuttered. You can’t go ten feet here without encountering fresh apples.
Personally, I pity those whose choices are limited to Galas, and Honeycrisps, and McIntoshes. Nothing is wrong with those…even I, from time to time, want to watch a prime-time soap opera like Grey’s Anatomy. But just as Grey’s Anatomy subsides into insignificance in comparison to Downton Abbey, or Breaking Bad, so does the Honeycrisp subside into insignificance in comparison to the Macoun. Or the Jonathan, or Pippin, or the Cortland, or the Paula Red, or the Rome. The Honeycrisp is fine, but sometimes the Discriminating Palate wants…more.
And more there is, and in abundance here. And that’s the one thing I regret not being able to show my friend Nancy. Because in Texas, mostly, an apple is an apple is an apple.
Here, the apple is the starting point. Tonight, it was the starting point for a superb meatloaf (ground beef, ground veal, breadcrumbs, eggs, ketchup, Vermont Maple Mustard, and an egg, and for the last half-hour, a coating of fresh Macoun applesauce, mustard, brown sugar, and pepper. And, if things go really well, a freshly baked apple dumpling for dessert. Because who doesn’t want to ascend directly to heaven, tonight.