Too Many Apples, Too Few Ideas
On one of those nearly- fall days that are so beautiful that you have to resist the temptation to break into jolly show tunes, my family drove up and took my boyfriend and I to Carter Mountain to get those beginning- of- the- season fruits.
Though this journey is a Charlottesville tradition, I had only been once before, and was dying to go back. The cool air on your face, the slightly vinegar-y smell of those fallen apples, the ability to see for miles in every direction… not a time or place to be missed.
The last time that I went was near the end of apple picking season, and fruit was scarce. I still managed to partially fill a bag, but it was after many hours of work and sending people (who were probably too large to be doing this sort of thing) to the tops of trees to gather the lonely remainders.
So, this year, as we drove up that dusty, windy path to the Apple Barn, I warned everyone that it was possible that we wouldn’t find enough apples to sate us.
Good grief, but I was wrong.
The smell of apples hit us in the face the moment we stepped out of the car. We gathered our bags and meandered down a generally deserted row, but not more than three minutes had passed until we were so thickly surrounded by apples that I felt like we were under siege.
Apples hung at eye level, drooped to the ground, and crowded high branches like they were climbing over each other to touch the sun. It was like being in a buffet: we stuffed our bags until we realized that we could be choosy. We then started a “Find the Biggest Apple” contest, until we had so many that I couldn’t easily carry my spoils.
Feeling triumphant, we returned home that night, swooning at our accomplishment and happily munching down the sweet fruit. I felt rich with the amount we had. We were going to be so healthy, we said. And so full! We could eat for weeks on this!
The next night was particularly insomniatic, but when I woke up at four a.m., instead of bemoaning my fate, I sprung up, elated. I could start cooking some apples now!
I fancied myself a regular housewife, imagined presenting a beautifully fluted pie to my roommates when they came back from school.
Actually, what my roommates probably noticed was the clattering and banging in the kitchen before the sun was up.
As always, these ideas never work out exactly as planned. Peeling and cutting and coring and chopping apples took up easily an hour, by which time I was unable to keep the stupid goofy smile on my face. I put some in the Crock Pot to make applesauce, then turned to the greatly reduced pile. Time for pie.
I opened the fridge to retrieve crusts, only to realize that not only did I only have one crust and limited ingredients, but the grocery wouldn’t open for another two or three hours.
No matter, I convinced myself. Open faced pie! That’s a thing, right?
Sadly, he pie came out of the oven blackened on top, everything boiled down and burnt because of its lack of protective covering. I tried to cut it up and it just all ran together, making a mushy mess of cinnamon juice and burnt apples. To hide my shame I had to eat most of it right there.
When the six hours were up for the applesauce, I re-kindled my excitement. The applesauce had been filling the house with such good smells all day. My fantasies started back up again: sitting around with my friends, laughing merrily in tacky sweaters as we scarfed down loads of sweet homemade applesauce…
I opened the lid, expecting the pot to be filled… and it wasn’t. Not even close. The ten apples that I put in it had reduced to less than two servings. It tasted and smelled amazing, but I had to quickly package it away, in order to save it to show people before I ate all of that, too.
After that, I called it quits on the apples. As a rule, I lose hope too easily, especially when food is on the line. The problem now is, I still have two bags of apples in my room, and no idea what to do with them. Also, my friends are talking about all of us going to Carter Mountain sometime soon… they hear the apples are great this year.