I started thinking about pies; and applesauce; and every time I walked through the produce section of the grocery store, where they’ve started piling them near the front, I’ve inhaled deeply.
But bananas and peaches and plums have consistently been cheaper-per-pound, and so I’ve left them.
It’s a strange place to be for me, craving apples. Previous years that’s all I’ve bought, and they’ve become such a mainstay part of my diet that they seemed boring.
But this summer, seasonal produce caught my eye, and I haven’t bought apples since spring and the parade of strawberries, grapes, cherries and peaches came across the checkout line.
Helman’s Orchard between Clymer and Indiana was selling apples at $15 a bushel. I had to search “what’s a bushel?” online to realize that $15 has every grocery store in town beat easily; and that I could never eat, freeze or process a bushel of apples. (Roughly 48 pounds, per Google).
I couldn’t quite remember where there might be an orchard there on Route 286. I drive there frequently, but never noticed one.
And yet there it was, a red barn-like building on the edge of the road with a basket of apples out in front. It took about 30 seconds for me to realize that I don’t really know apples, despite eating them nearly every day of my adult life.
The small room was heady with apple smells. Bags of half-bushels, pecks and half-pecks lined tables. Jonathan, Macintosh, Winesap, Red and Golden Delicious apples were grouped by category, some with hand-scrawled notes like “great for eating” or “great for baking.”
I was lost.
I have no earthly idea what I like. They all looked pretty. They all smelled good. And they were all the same price. I couldn’t even default toward the cheapest.
I chose by the name, and now I have half-a-peck of Winesap apples sitting on a bowl on my kitchen counter (because how can I not buy apples with “wine” in the name,” along with half-a-gallon of fresh apple cider in my fridge.
And though fall means the end of summer, and the end of sunshine, I remember now why I love it.
There’s just something about those rich, dark colors all around; and the crisp smell of fresh-picked apples filling my own small kitchen.