Apples, tomatoes and potatoes, Oh My! How is it October? Where did summer go? I honestly felt very busy and productive during the season of making hay while the sun shines. Yet here we are, beautiful comforting slowing Fall. In our area of North Central Idaho the leaves are turning, the days golden, and the nights comfortably star filled.
After our late September county fair, I annually feel we are on the work of living downhill slide. Peaches line the pantry shelves and my blackberry abused fingers begin to heal. Applesauce simmers scenting the weekends with cinnamon. This is our first full calendar year on our homestead, and I am realizing that October is not for rest.
Our six discovered homestead apple trees are bursting with yellow and fluorescent red globes of free sustenance. The wild turkeys meander daily across the yard. A third of the potatoes are stored in a garbage can between layers of newspaper, the remaining rows still upright and green with life. I have spinach sprouting in my birthday gift cold frame (rough cut timber and a re-purposed double pane sliding glass door.) The tomatoes are ripening for dear life in face of the cold nights, 15 pounds last weekend alone. 12 gallons of wild blackberries stacked like antioxidant bricks in the deep freeze.
My weekly list includes apple and pear picking forays to now wild trees around the county, my apple hoard now 6 large boxes. I have wanted a cider press for years, searching classifieds and yard sales alike. Thanks to social media and good fortune, friends from Peck, Idaho offered their turn of the century model free for the taking. The Elsbury family was kind enough to let us drag the behemoth out of their hayloft where the press and cast iron grinder was placed by tractor five years ago. They felt the press was akin to a quilt, meant to be used.
So the apple picking race is on, there isn't a tree within 30 miles safe from my cider desires. Armed with Jenna Woginrich's hard cider recipe and bees still churning out honey, Apple Jack is imminent. I can't say I don't have moments where the list seems too long and it's contents too perishable to be possible. But ten feet up in an apple tree with audible wing strokes as a hawk flies above on a fine October Sunday soothes my urgency, and reminds me that the gift of this life, of this sustenance making journey, is as sweet as Fall cider.