An Early Start to Fall

September 12, 2006

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Since Labor Day Weekend proved cool and rainy in the Northeast, it felt more the “Kick-Off-to Fall” than the “Last-Summer-Weekend-Blowout”. Not one to let the unseasonable weather get me down, I used the weather as an excuse to get back to my youth.

I was visiting my parents and younger sister, “The Suz”, in central Connecticut…in a town my college friends nicknamed “Cleaverland“….. sleeping in my old bedroom–complete with twin bed, pale pink walls and a white dresser with pink roses across each drawer–so it wasn’t hard to feel like it was “back-to-school” time again. Time for new notebooks and plaid skirts and knee-socks you were dying to wear, even though it wasn’t *quite* cool enough for such things. So in keeping with these fall-like feelings, we headed over to Rogers Orchard.

I love this place! It’s built up on the hills in Southington, CT, so you have a beautiful, winding drive through the trees and hills to get to it–passing groupings of apple and pear and peach trees along each ridge. And once you arrive, it could be 2006, 1976, or even 1956–nothing about this place has changed since well before I was born.

Bushels of apples line the floor of the barn salesroom with hand-lettered signs telling you about each variety. An apple cider dispenser (certainly circa 1950!) still portions out cups of the muddy liquid on the honor system, with just a metal coin box alongside. And the fresh apple cider donuts—old fashioned donuts perfumed with cider and cinnamon, and if you like, dusted with sugar. I always choose the sugar myself. Yum!

We went in seach of peaches—and got some beauties:

Why is that I love them even more since they came in this beautiful little basket? Sure it’s a “modern” cardboard version….but it still evokes the feeling of yesteryear. Makes me feel even more connected to the way my grandmother’s cooked, etc. Yes, I know that seems like a lot to take from a basket…but these touches all contribute to that feeling of stepping back in time.
And to make it even more fun, when we paid, they wrapped the basket in a sheet of cellaphane and secured it with a large rubber band–ingenious!

This allowed me to swing my basket by my side as I walked out to the car, with no fear of losing or hurting one of these beauties!

We weren’t planning on buying any apples, but as soon as we saw how bright and gorgeous these Gala’s looked, we simply had to have them!

They looked so good, I decided to eat one in the car—even before my sugar-dusted donut! They were juicy and crisp and had a sweetness that was as bright as their skins.

A peach cobbler was made that first night, all the apples have been eaten out of hand, a batch of peach sauce has been used on everything from ice cream to pound cake, and just last night I peeled, sliced and froze the rest of the peaches, in bags labeled “Rogers Peaches–Labor Day 2006”.

Will they be blended into smoothies, made into a coffee cake, or chopped and added to my favorite scone? Or maybe used in something all together new? I like the idea of them just waiting there for me—ready for whenever inspiration, or just a craving, will strike.

And when I pull them out and read the tag, it will remind me of my trip “back in time”—swinging my peach basket, riding in the back seat of my parent’s car, and being reminded to “wrap the apple core in a napkin, for goodness sake!”, and “please try not to get the donut sugar all over place back there!” See–some things really don’t change, no matter how old you are! *smile*

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