Sunday, October 5, 2008

Edwards Apple Orchard

Ah, fall... around here it means cold, crisp weather, changes to the leaves on the trees, turning up the heat and digging out the turtlenecks!

Fall also means our annual trip to the apple orchard. I've been visiting Edwards Apple Orchard since I can remember. The trips were about family, fresh cider and apple cider donuts. (not necessarily in that order, sorry Mom)

My husband and I always get up early so we can be there when the doors open at 9am. It gets busy and you want to be in and out of there quickly. Our main objective? The always freshly fried apple cider donuts. These are no ordinary run of the mill bakery donuts. They are warm from the fryer, crispy on the outside, covered in sugar, tender on the inside and if you don't consume them within 15 minutes they revert back to a plain 'ol donut.

Seriously. You must eat them quickly to fully savor the sweet piece of bliss.

These should never be brought home for eating later. It's mandatory that they be history when leaving the property.. in fact, my husband and I buy a half gallon of cider and a dozen donuts and lock ourselves in the car - devouring the little gems of goodness and drinking from the jug - I know, it isn't very classy but it sure is good.

The orchard is in the middle of nowhere. Down long winding roads, far from any city or town. Cornfields and pastures. Farms and endless acres. A little piece of perfection in nature.

In January 2008, this orchard was hit by a freak tornado and the place was basically destroyed. Luckily, no one was seriously injured and they vowed to rebuild.

They had to rebuild the outbuildings and their home. The newly repaired orchard looks the same. The owners did a very good job rebuilding things to look as they did before the tornado. I think they understood the history of the place and the importance of the memories we all had. The buildings are bigger, but laid out the same. They reused timbers when they could. The apples are still in the back but the fudge has it's own little counter now. There are still bookcases full of candles and knickknacks and on the weekend you can still sample the salsa and cheese dips, fudge and apples.

The landscaped has changed. Less trees dot the grounds. The stories tall weathervane tower is no longer covered with vines, The place seems a little battered but stronger for it. Inside the main building, among the gifts and jams and bottled salad dressing, is a memorial to what was and was is - a wall full of photos on the devastation, pieces of bent metal and tattered shards of belongings found after the tornado cut it's path thru the heart of so many childhood memories.

When you visit now, you'll hear fractured conversations, whispers and recollections from the people who are strangers but in some way, family. If you grew up around here, the orchard was part of your life. Kids went on field trips, families bonded and friends came together there. I'm glad that it isn't lost and that so many more generations will experience the joy of sipping cider, eating a hot donut and breathing in the crisp fall air while forgetting the life you left behind a little ways up the road.

We usually kept our donut trek to once a year because no one needs to eat 4 or 6 donuts in a sitting more than once every 12 months.. but this year we went more than once. We went opening weekend, as we usually do and a few weeks later, met friends for one outing. I suspect I should make once last trip. For old time sake.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The memories you've evoked are palpable. We too made the trek every year but this year was special-they rebuilt not only the buidings but the memories.Even on an early weekday morning we had trouble finding a place to park.We too eat the donuts in the car and drink the cider from the jug. I wouldn't have it any other way.
The apple orchard is a memory in a much different way for me( besides the one's listed above). I remember a day 28 years and 1 day ago.I walked around the orchard with my hubby and my inlaws.I was sooo pregnant and in fact I delivered my first son that night(Oct.19th,1980). I felt my first labor pains while I was there. So every year my hubby and I say "remember when we were here and you were in labor?)Oh, the memories......