Putting words on the screen and trying not to be too judgy-judgy about whatever my creativity chucks out...
Like sunburned beachgoers storming an ice-cream parlor, the tiny leaf-shaped fires spread a conflagration of color across the woodlot.
Inside the wood, under the bright canopy, the leaf-strewn floor shines brighter yet. Rafts of bronze-backed turkey drift through this orange world. Devilish tuft-eared black squirrels add a Halloween accent, digging with only the barest pause to glare at an intruder.
A pair of leggy yearling deer skitter around a doe. She rarely stops moving, nosing through the leaves for beechnuts, for tender branch-ends, for windfall apples.
Prey animals are changing color from spring chestnut to ashy brown. In a week they will disappear into a stand of dead grass simply by standing still, but just now, in this pumpkin-spice week of peak color, they pop.
Once we discovered the neglected rows of apple trees on the Would-Be Farm and started their rehabilitation, the first question was always, "But what kind of apples?"
And for six years, I've answered (at painful, literal length), "We aren't sure."
Because, long story short, we have had one dang thing after another. Most critically, we've never been on hand when the fruits fully ripened without a late frost that nipped the buds, or that plague of tent caterpillars, or the zombie apocalypse, et cetera.
But this year --!
First, aside from the considerable matter of a drought, it was a good year for fruit on the Farm. We had the first ripe apples in late August.
And with fruit in hand, it's possible to start identifying them. Not to mention eating them.
To figure out what kind of apple it is, one starts with looking at the size and shape of the fruit, the color and texture of its skin, the quality and color of the flesh, and finally, the flavor and juiciness of the apple. Phew.
I spent a lot of time sitting with a pile of apples, leafing through my reference book. I'm only sure of a few varieties –– but it's a start.
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