New England 2011: apples and more apples

Fall has arrived in these green hills – the leaves are turning and even though the days lately have been global warming humid, it would never really feel like summer to a local. The mellow golden sunsets of August have absolutely given way to cold nights and I have been watching the twilight creeping earlier and earlier each day.

Some people dread the winter – not me. Really I’d take the northeast USA in all her seasons and have a place in my heart for all the rituals and happenings of each one but there’s something magical about September and October.

Doesn’t hurt my favorite color is orange or that I love apple picking. Doesn’t hurt that as the child of people who worked for colleges and schools all my growing up life, that the year never seems to start for me in January but right after Labor Day. And don’t get me started on Halloween… promise to cover that soon.

In grade school, every year we’d go on this apple picking, apple cider making day – like a rite of passage for a true Yankee child. We’d all head out up in the big old yellow school bus in the freezing morning and spend the day at the orchard with the excitement of rickety ladders and weird claw like things with baskets. Once started, we’d pick our little six year old hearts out and have some crazy apple fights (think apple swapped in for a snow ball kind of fight). That only went on until someone got a black eye or cried (most likely me – not the black eye, although am a clumsy accident prone kind of gal but probably the crying ’cause, well, I was a wimpy kid at times – nothing like a virtual confession).

The best part of the day was taking our haul over to someone’s parents house where we’d press the apples into cider on a press from 1735 (not really, but I have a feeling these were Mayflower Society folks – real deal old New England) – the thrill of turning the giant wooden screw and watching the juice get squeezed out, being beset the whole time by the drowsy bees who are just trying to get the honey in before it snows. I’d arrive home, sunburned, sticky and happy. And my poor family would have to eat an apple or 20 a day for weeks and weeks.

By the time I was twelve, I’d made apple cake, pie, sauce, butter, doughnuts  and these weird and creepy apple headed dolls that would whither and get more creepy and weird until my father would demand they be thrown away.

So…. that’s my first “cow” post – I do promise when I board a plane for more exciting shores that I’ll write about that – in the meantime, eat an apple in my honor…. soon I’ll learn how to post pictures too.

Happy Fall friends.

beginning at the beginning

When I was eight, my family spent a month and a 1/2 in France and England. It was the first international flight I could remember, drank my first orangina, learned my first French word – which was STOP (aggressive foreign speaking children + pool ) and slept in an overnight train berth.

My mother kept telling me to keep a journal so I could remember what we were doing, what we saw. I should have reminded her that I was just eight, about to be nine and had just learned sentence structure, forget spelling.

I found that journal a few years ago in my family home and it had one perfect entry. “In France…. went out for dinner. Goat ran by dinner place. Mom said to rite this down. ”

I do remember that day. We arrived to a gray summer dawn in Paris, proceeded to friend’s house where were staying for a few days. I took a nap and woke up thinking it was the next day and became incensed when told it was still Tuesday/whatever day of the week it was – declared I wanted to go home. (Hello, Jetlag – 10 years later we would meet again and again). My father’s friend took us out to a cafe in Montmarte for dinner – all kinds of staying up too late, exotic grilled cheese sandwiches with ham and tables on the sidewalk.

In the middle of dinner, a white goat ran up the street, chased by it’s owner. A goat, in the middle of the street, on a random summer evening in the city of light. Conversation paused and then we all returned to eating.

The next day, we went to the Louvre for eight hours…. but that’s a story for another day.

The trip was glorious… we were like gypsies – only staying where my parents had friends or family, drinking it all up, until it was time to return to real life. Even so, when I sat in the plane on the tarmac on the eve of my ninth birthday, I was thinking I can’t wait to go home.

I didn’t realize it then but that was the beginning of a life long love story of being somewhere else exotic and other , being enchanted and changed by being there and then coming home only to remember it over and over again.

That next March, all dismal and muddy, I would be able to close my eyes, and I’d be in Paris again, a white goat would run by, the summer sun would still be up at 10pm and I’d be tired and wide awake all over again, my skin shivery, my eyes wide. Moments like that can comfort me until I am able to see the brave snow drops that bloom first and spring really arrives – all electric green in her glory.

Many travel bloggers are really out there – years have been logged with no permanent address, true global citizens, could tell me hours and hours of stories. Oh how I deeply respect their journey and envy all of them. Maybe someday that could be me but right now, my life balance comes with a glorious gallivant to a far flung place (towards the top of my list…. the safe ‘stans of Central Asia) with a triumphant return to my green hills of New England, going to my local coffee spot and running into my neighbors.

Please read and share your own stories here and thank you joining me on my life’s adventure.

PS 1st international flight was taken when I was a toddler – father taught a semester in Italy – was 18 months – lots of me, Sante Croce and pigeons, beautifully made purple leather shoes.