We had occasion to drive the PA turnpike over the weekend to visit our eldest in college. Normally I’m not a big fan of long drives, and yesterday was gray and rainy to boot. But the drive home today was gorgeous. The maple trees seem to have hit the peak of their color, and the wooded hills we passed were like rich tapestries of color, a section of gold running into a section of crimson and then into brown. Some of the fields we passed–perhaps soybeans?–had turned such a beautiful rich mid-brown shade, like cinnamon or nutmeg. The sky was bright blue, a few clouds straggled by, and hawks were wheeling about high overhead.
Marcy goes to school in Adams County, which is the apple capital of Pennsylvania. I first fell in love with it when we were visiting schools out there and drove along Route 30 (I think) through rows and rows and rows of apple trees in autumn, their branches weighted down with ripe fruit. Last year, Doug and I went to the Pennsylvania Apple Festival in Biglersville. The air in those hills actually smelled of apples as we drove through. We stopped at a roadside stand and filled a big bag of “mix-and-match” apples from bins of different varieties. There must have been two dozen or more. All the old-fashioned apples that I love much more than bland Delicious were there: Winesap, McIntosh, Jonathan, Empire, Cortland, Northern Spy. It was a great way to try and compare. We also added some Japanese pear/apples to our bag, and they were a revelation. They taste icyy-cold and impossibly crisp when you bite in.
I don’t even mind that I’ve got another long drive tomorrow, up to New York State, and home again on Tuesday—so long as the weather holds, and there are produce stands with apples to look forward to!
USDA photo by Scott Bauer.