~ apples being washed ~About this time, every year, my family gathers together to make apple cider. This year we went to my brother's West Virginia farm, on the mountain north of Snowshoe, and squeezed six bushels of whatever apples he and his wife found on the mountain.
~ who needs a ladder? ~Since we had to go all over the mountain to pick apples, it was a lot easier to take the John Deere tractor and use the bucket as a ladder. It's a lot safer, as well, although there are those who might look askance at our methods.
~ Dad, Steve & Donette pressing apples ~Many years ago, my brother bought a Happy Valley cider press and it still looks as good as new. He takes care of his equipment, that's how we were raised and it really upsets us when someone uses our tools and doesn't put them back, cleaned, where they belong. It's so much easier and less expensive to keep good what we have rather than buy new. Why is it, do you suppose, so many people don't seem to have grasped that concept?
~ Dad & Steve ~It was a great day for pressing apples - a trifle cool, gray and overcast. Although it's hard work, we never worked up a sweat and only saw one yellow jacket the entire day...very nice indeed.
~ fresh pressed cider ~
~ apple leavings ~The pressed apples were loaded in the front end loader and taken to the cattle who thought it a real treat.
~ cattle treat ~This week I've been putting up apple cider, making apple butter, drying apples for pies and making fresh apple pies and crisps. Some of the cider and butter has been given away and when all the apples are gone, I'll be finished and the cellar, pantry and freezers will be full to overflowing. I'm a simple thing and my cider is made straight up, with the mother, and no additives, preservatives or heating. I'll freeze some of my cider and keep it against a time when the snow balls are flying and a mug of hot cider will be just the ticket to stave off winter's chill. No need to add a bunch of maple syrup or cinnamon or what have you. If you've started with an excellent product, all those additives are just wasted. If you're buying your apple cider from the grocery store, you'll probably want to add a bunch of stuff to help the flavor along. Store bought and fresh made just can't compare.
There are those who swear the mother is beneficial to one's health and well being. I'm one of "those" and drink fresh apple cider until it's almost coming out of my pores. This time of year, at least, and at other times of the year I'll drink apple cider vinegar, again with the mother. It aids in all sorts of health problems - decreases the pain of arthritis, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol and loads of other things. I suppose the American Medical Association discounts all this but when you consider that only about fifteen percent of doctors in this country belong to the AMA...wellllllll...let's just say, choose wisely. I'm quite certain God placed everything on earth we need to remain alive, healthy and well but we, in our ultimate wisdom...ahem... have chosen to take the path well traveled and mess up both our lives and the planet. It's up to each of us to find that path that leads us not only back to good health but also to God. As Paul said in Philippians 2:12, "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..."
I do love this time of the year and am like the old woman when she was asked, "What's your favorite day?" She looked brightly at the person and said, "Why today of course!" Amen, sister! In our family we, generally, make the same happy memories over and over and those memories, generally, have to do with food. Daddy's people have been in Appalachia for many generations, as have Mother's people, just in a different part of Appalachia. Food, shelter, clothing have always been a primary concern for us and reduce, reuse, recycle, renew, repurpose and all those other non-vintage words have been our touchstone for generations over and over. Long before it became a battle cry of the Johnnie come lately's we've been living our lives with purpose, dignity and grace. Our family may have, at one time, been hard scrabble poor but we were free and whatever we had we shared with others; no one has ever gone from our place hungry and no one ever will. In lean and flush times, we've always had food, the beds have always had hand made quilts and there was a roof over our heads.
God has blessed us so much and I'm so grateful to Him. He continues to watch over us, bless us and I call His name many, many, many times during the day - in praise, contemplation, honor, love, for help, guideance. His blessings start and end with His love and, at this time of the year is made manifest with wonderful and delicious apple cider!
What are your blessings?
Blessings ~ apples ~ family ~ cider ~ pies ~ dried apples ~ apple crisp ~ cider press ~ memories ~
Grace and Peace,