Ok, so you can probably tell from the title that this post has been languishing for quite a while.
When I started this post in Word, the first paragraph was true. However, then my computer deleted it (seriously, when I opened the Word doc the lines of text deleted themselves before my very eyes as I pounded frantically on the keyboard. Then my wonderful laptop autosaved the “revision.”
I finally remembered I’d copied it as a draft in WordPress, so all was not lost. Then I went away for two weeks. And then, really, most of the reason for the delay, I was just incredibly lazy.
It’s harvest time here; the pumpkins, gourds and apples are out but the air is still, today at least, summery and warm. Growing up, harvest was a nearly-magical time – not quite as beautiful as winter with its sparkling snow or spring with sticky baby leaves unfurling on the trees, but a warm, orange, spicy beautiful season. Harvest time meant glowing stands of aspen popping out on the hillsides amidst the lodgepole pines. The energy in the air was high – school was fresh and not yet tiresome. Workbooks were new and crisp, peechees uncreased, and crayons and pencils still long and sharp.
At home on the orchard the days were long. “Straddle” trucks came and deposited rows and rows of wooden bins, and canvas picking bags were retrieved and laid out. The fieldman from the warehouse cooperative came nearly every day to test the sugars to see if the apples were ready for picking. Single Mexican men were hired by the dozen, ready to be called into action and Dad waited for the day the fieldman said “go.” Once picking started, the air rang with musical Spanish shouted from row to row in the laden orchard. Sometimes one of the men burst into song, exotic and romantic sounding to my little Anglo ears. At night, mariachi and Mexican pop music blared into the late darkness.
The warm fall air was spicy with ripe fruit as the occasional apple fell from the tree or was tossed, rejected for size or bruising, by a picker. Trucks and tractors filled with heaped apple bins came and went between orchard and warehouse all day, all week, as long as there was light to see by. We girls were careful to stay well back from the straddle trucks, as we’d heard of people getting their feet and arms squished as the two sides of the truck trailer frame came together around the full apple bins.
Grinding the apples
Later, we might gather up the apples from the ground under the trees and haul out grandpa’s old cider press and some plastic jugs. This became an end-of-harvest tradition for many years.
Pressing the ground up fruit.
It’s no coincidence that Thanksgiving shows up right after Harvest time. Gathering your goods around you – jars of peaches, jams, tomato sauce, – maybe you’re more ambitious and do your own jerky and hams; perhaps you have a cellar full of root vegetables cozied up in bushel baskets (I always wanted a root cellar full of bushel baskets).
Either way, gathering your harvest together makes you realize you have a lot for which to be thankful.
So, a late Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and a blessed Christmas season.