Monthly Archives: October 2014

Johnny Appleseed


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.

I Am Being One Brave Horse.


It has been a very exciting day today!!  I am not getting to go out in the mornings.  This is because of fighting.  Everything was being fine until Chip said You stop bossing me around Huey! And I said You should just be doing what I say! and he said You are not the boss of me!! and I said Yes I am!! And he said Prove it!! And I said OK!!!!!  And now we are not getting to go out together any more.  My rider is telling me not to be so bossy, but I cannot be helping that.  It is just being how I am.

But that is not what I am wanting to tell you about.  It is this.  I am eating my hay this morning inside, because I am not getting to go out in the mornings now, and my rider is showing up there.  This is being early for my rider to come, so I am at first ignoring her.  But she is opening up the door and saying Huey!! Look what mama has on!!!

And then I am realizing something.  I am realizing that my rider has a name, like Huey.  Only it is not Huey, because that is being my name.  Her name is being Mama.    And I am realizing something else.  Mama is wearing riding boots.  And I am saying Mama.  Why are you wearing those boots?  You are riding some other horse? But she is saying No, Huey.  I am riding you.  We are going riding today!!

Well, I am not being so sure about that.  Last time we went riding, Bad Things happened.  I am wanting to go riding, but I am also not wanting to go riding.  It is being confusing.  But there it is, I am getting brushed, and I am getting my go riding boots on, and there is being my saddle, and my bridle, and my rider, I mean, Mama, saying It is time.  Let’s go lunge.

Well, lunging I can do.  It is all I have been doing, so that is being fine.  But then we are lunging and then she is taking me over to the mounting block, and then I am realizing I cannot go to the mounting block.  This is why.  The last time I am going to the mounting block, VERY BAD THINGS ARE HAPPENING.  I am bucking and my rider is flying and getting hurt and then I am thinking I am being sold but we are only moving to a new barn.  But I am knowing one thing:  it is because of the mounting block.  I cannot go there because bad things will happen!!!!!!!!!!

Mama is saying Huey.  MOVE OVER and STAND BY THE BLOCK.  But I am saying NOOOO!!!  I cannot!!!!!!!  And then there are other people there, and the other rider, and everyone is telling me Go stand by the block.  But I cannot do it!!!!!!!!!  Then the other rider is walking me and Mama is saying Huey, you can go by the block.  It is OK.  And the other rider is saying Yes, Huey, nothing bad is going to happen.  But I am knowing it will!!!!!!!!!!!  And I am saying NOOO!!!  But they are not stopping, and they are saying how brave I am having to be and go stand by the block and be a Good Boy Huey, it is OK.  And it is taking a very long time, but I am finally deciding I can be brave and I am going to stand by that block.

Then the other rider is getting on me and making me do hard things, but that is OK, because I am liking to work.  And I am having to go stand by that block some more. And then the other rider is getting off and everyone is wanting me to go back by the block.  I am seeing that Mama has a helmet on, and that is definitely meaning riding, and I am scared about that because what if something is happening?!?!?  And I am bucking again?!?!?!?  I am not wanting to throw Mama!!!!!!!!!  But she is saying Huey, you are such a Good Brave Horse.  I am knowing it will be OK.

I can tell there is something she is not saying.  That is because I am a horse and horses hear with more than ears.  She is saying I am knowing it will be OK, but she is also saying I am afraid it will not be OK.  She is not wanting to get bucked again.  But she is saying I am afraid it will not be OK with a small voice, and saying I am knowing it will be OK with a bigger voice, and so I am saying to her, It will be OK.  I am being a brave horse, and you are being a brave person.  It is being OK.  I am standing here, and you are getting on.

It is not being her best job of getting on.  The I am afraid it will not be OK voice is getting VERY LOUD but just for a minute, and then there we are being, me and her, Huey and Mama.  And she is squirming a little in the saddle, and I am standing very still.  Because that is what Good Brave Horses do.  They stand still.  And then she said Move out with her seat, just like always, and we did.  There was a lot going on, but I just remembered that I was a Brave Horse, and she remembered she was a Brave Person, and it was OK just like they were saying.

Then afterward, I got scared again because Mama had some stuff that she wanted to put on my neck.  It is being sore there on account of all the fighting I have been having to do.  I said NOOO!!  Do not be putting anything on me!!!!  But she is saying Huey.  Smell it.  It is smelling good.  And it is making your muscle feel good too.  Well, I remembered I am a Brave Horse, and so I am smelling it a little, and she is right, and then I am wanting to smell it some more and maybe put some of that on my tongue.  But she is saying No, this goes on your skin.  I am saying I have skin on my tongue.  But she is saying it is a different kind of skin.  And it is making the sore muscle feel better.

I am hoping that I will remember to be a Brave Horse when we go riding again.  Riding is better than not riding.