Fall, Apples, and a Budding Romance
I love the fall because of the crisp air and the quirky breezes. As I walk the trails, I can see the color of the leaves begin to change and my trail gradually fills up with fallen leaves. Football games, hot chocolate, and the bright orange promises of a pumpkin patch mark the passing from summer into fall.
In late July/early August we found a strange looking weed on our walking route through the woods. First we noticed some really big leaves growing out of our “compost” dirt hill. The leaves were much larger than the other plants, but we thought it might be a new strain of weeds coming to join the other weeds on the hill. After all, they had little stickers and they were taking over. As time passed, the large leaves began to cascade down the side of the hill.
One day my husband asked me to go on the trails with him as he had a surprise. As we got closer to the hill, I noticed that the huge leaves had entirely taken over the hill. In between the leaves were fairly large green balls. Some were dark green and shiny. One or two were shriveled and yellowish. Others had streaks of orange in them. It took a minute to register what I was seeing. “Pumpkins!” I hollered. We walked around and counted. Thirteen pumpkins. They were beautiful!
Over the rest of the summer we had rain, rain, and more rain. There were days we couldn’t get up into the woods to walk, but when we did we always went by the pumpkin patch to count. We cruelly forced the kids to leave their screens and go look. When they had friends over we made them go up and look. They were not impressed. The friends stared at us and gave sympathetic glances to our kids. They were not, however, so traumatized that they could not envision future jack-o-lanterns.
When the new boyfriend attached himself to our daughter, we made them go up and gaze at the pumpkins. They were not impressed either. They could not envision walking a steep mountain trail to view wild pumpkins as a valid way to be together. We, however, thought they should be busy, so up the mountain they went. With the small chaperones of course.
Before the pumpkins were ready, the apples started falling from the trees. With four large, productive trees, I was busy making apple butter, apple cakes, and canning apples for the winter. After the first few buckets of apples, the kids would beg me to leave them on the ground, but I found that I could not. So, we gathered, peeled, cooked, and gathered some more.
Between cooking and peeling we would walk the mountain and check on our pumpkins. They were mostly orange when the grapes were ready. Grape jelly!
More jars were brought out of their boxes, peels and stems were thrown on the compost hill, and jelly bread sandwiches became the new staple for breakfast and lunch. Everyone was involved.
Including the new boyfriend. He comes over on a Saturday, heads to the kitchen for a knife, grabs a bucket of apples and settles into a lawn chair on the back porch. Nothing quite seals a budding romance like sitting around peeling apples with the old folks. He is learning some valuable lessons.
Now, the grapes have all been made into beautiful, clear jelly and the shelves are sagging with the weight of the apple harvest. We hauled the pumpkins down the mountain last week, but I am not worried about the budding romance. Not a bit. Just yesterday I checked on the black walnut trees and they are LOADED.
Many lessons to be learned while trying to crack black walnuts!