Monday, October 5, 2009

Her Shoes Said It All

We made an unexpected trip to see family this past weekend. While we were there, we decided to pick up about half of the apples we plan to turn into applesauce this year. A little while back, I mentioned that we weren't sure we'd get our favorite variety for saucing this year (Red Cortlands), but thanks to family keeping their eyes and ears open, it looks like we won't have to find a substitute this year.

Sam and Sadie stayed back at the house while Jamey, Miriam and I made the 10 minute drive to an Old Order (Mennonite) farm. We pulled in between the farmhouse and the barn. Attached to the barn (on the house side) was the add-on of a store/farm stand of sorts. The sign read "self-serve" and instructed folks to pay at the house. The "store" smelled amazing. Inside there were about 10 large bins each holding a different variety of apple. Jamey filled up baskets while I showed Miriam all the different kinds of apples. In addition to apples, they had potatoes, concord grapes and apple cider for sale.

Outside, pullets free-ranged among the flower beds. The family's buggy was parked outside the barn. Their orchard sprawled over the hill beyond the barn. Flower beds overflowed with blooms. Tree branches held swings. The smell of manure filled the air.

While we were there, a hand-full of others came to make purchases as well. Most came via horse and buggy. They conversed with the man of the house (who came out to the store with the increase in activity) in Pennsylvania Dutch. I wished I could speak it and ask about their favorite varieties and how their gardens fared this year. They didn't ignore us. They made polite conversation in English and one older woman noticed the dealer tags on our van and recognized the town we're from.

Miriam and I were back in the van while Jamey finished loading our purchases. Out from the house, being followed by two small children, came the woman of the house. Her hair was in a bun, her dress and apron plain. On her legs, even in the heat of the day, she wore white stockings. On her feet were black, clunky-looking sneakers. Those sneakers said it all. They were worn, dirty and dusty. Them were working shoes. And, I imagine, with a house, a farm, an orchard and who knows how many children, those shoes on those feet do a lot of work.

In those moments while I watched her I felt awe. I felt inspired. And, I felt tired.

We drove away with five baskets of Cortlands, one of Galas (for eating out of hand), one of Winter Banana (for drying) and a gallon of apple cider. Pin It


  1. Did the apples come from somewhere in Lancaster County? I would like to try some of the Winter Banana. I never heard of that kind before. I am going that way next week and could pick some up.

    Aunt V.

  2. Sounds beautiful...and worth the hard work. Galas are my most favorite apple...have fun making applesauce!

  3. Aunt V,
    Yes, they did. I had never heard of Winter Banana apples before. They say they are a great, sweet drying apple. The "sweet" part is what intrigued me since I have only ever dried Granny Smiths before (tart). I'm hoping my kids will like eating these better.

  4. This was a beautiful scene, I went there with the story, and thank you for it. I saw her shoes and appreciate so much the reminder of a good mother who works hard.
    We are in a sultry October, where I'm watching oranges turn instead of leaves. I long for cooler days, quietness of farms, but am thankful for the peace I have. I can 'taste' those apples, while I wait for the citrus to ripen. mmmm.

  5. How wonderful. I once took a few days through Ohio's Amish country. What a gorgeous place! So different from out west. A different life altogether.

  6. What a great story...thanks for sharing it. I have a question for you...have you ever made some of your applesauce into apple butter? It is sooooo yummy and it can be canned like jam...I'm sure you'd be pleased if you decide to make some. A blog I visit just posted a recipe that I tried and it turned out just wonderful. Let me know if you are interested and I'll send you her way. (Of course, if you are not...I totally understand!)

  7. Camille, thank you for the recipe offer. We do love apple butter, but we opt to buy it at our area's Mennonite Relief Sale each year versus make it- the kids get to watch them stir the huge cauldron with a canoe paddle:-).

  8. No worries...what a great experience for the kids to see it in production! :) I'm sure it's very yummy too!


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