Wife, writer, tinkerer, grower of food. I'm happiest outside our rambling farmhouse with a basket looped on my arm, picking dinner from the garden. That's joy right there. Please follow along; I'm so glad you're here!
Saturday was 71, sunny, and I was free as a bird. I had heard tell of a great cidering to be taking place that afternoon, and so I quickly set about learning the deets, and making plans. Our friends Norm and Michele and their daughter Maya live on the hill just outside the village, and they are good inventive homesteader-DIYers like ourselves. Over several years (and four iterations) Norm has invented this amazing bicycle-powered apple grinder, for the purpose of converting apples into mash, from which the cider is pressed.
When someone you know has a bicycle-powered apple grinder, you find out when and where and you show up.
Norm offered to come down early to help me shake our (loaded) apple tree that is perhaps as old as the house. Then our neighbors Zena and Simone wandered over, and together we emptied three other trees nearby. Traipsing through a tangled field of dead goldenrod trailing empty feed sacks felt like those wild foraging missions I would take on as a child, with zeal, encouraging (bossing) my dubious friends to help me in digging spring beauty bulbs, or cattail roots, or picking elderberries. The zeal is still there, but I kept my bossing mostly to myself.
Mid-afternoon, we and a few other families converged on the scene. Everyone brought apples from their trees. It was poetic-- everyone brought something truly from their land, something free and wild and flavored with the particular flavors of everyone's native ground. (This is the kind of thing that really sets me off, in a good way.)
In addition to apples, I brought Del. Michele spread out cinnamon sugar popovers and molasses cookies. We all took a cup from a big bowl of cups, and as the cider started to flow we dipped and drank. The taste changed as different bags of apples were pressed.
Del wooed everyone, as is his way. I think he was angling for a cookie.
I don't know what the final cider tally was, but we pressed probably somewhere close to 50 gallons of cider in not very much time at all. We all milled around, dumping apples into the hopper, and checking to see if the mash bucket was full, and dumping the mash, and pressing the mash, and of course riding the Ciderator, the fabulously effective apple grinder.
There are those who love the theater, or the beach, or a luxurious meal out (and I love all of those things too, in their time). But my main inspiring happy-place is right here, at the intersection of invention and self-sufficiency and FOOD, watching manpower (and womanpower) and harvest and ingenuity become something delicious and amazing and so totally humble. By the people, for the people, not to get too carried away.