A is for Abundance

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What does your region have in abundance?

I love where I live, in upstate New York, because of the abundance of water, open and free places, splendid scenic wonders, reminders of America’s history, feelings of nostalgia for my own family roots.

On the other hand, there’s an absolute dearth of shopping opportunities. We have the dollar stores, drug stores chains, and Walmart. We don’t have a decent bookstore or any place to buy clothes beyond J.C. Penney, really, which explains why my wardrobe mostly arrives in the mail, from L.L. Bean.

One small aspect of our local shopping scene, however, makes me ridiculously happy—we have an abundance of apple orchards. I can think, off the top of my head, of 7 or 8 big orchards within a 25-mile radius.

We have an orchard for every occasion!

We have an orchard for apple cider donuts. These donuts are very important to my happiness, with their crunchy, spicy, fall-tasting cinnamon and sugar coating. The same orchard is also where we go, in general, for baked goods (crumb-topped apple pie!) and for taking photos of small children in a big pumpkin patch. But we don’t buy apples there.

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We have an orchard for hard cider. They have a number of different ciders, from sweet to dry, and they have a tasting room. You gotta love a tasting room! We like their cider with Thanksgiving dinner, but we don’t buy apples there.

We have an orchard for nostalgia. One of the local orchards was started and run by my family for years. It’s no longer in our family but they keep a photo of my grand-aunt and uncle on the wall, and honor those roots. We go there to soak up the good feelings and buy Christmas wreaths. But we don’t buy apples there.

We have orchards known for “pick you own” apples and for corn mazes or hayrides. We have big-time commercial orchards—you may be eating apples from our North Country orchards!

We have orchards that are also garden centers in the spring and summer. We have orchards that sell lunch. We have orchards that sell Christmas trees and wreaths and homemade jams and gluten-free baked goods. And chocolates and veggies and maple syrup.

And, of course, they all sell apples but we only have one orchard for apples. One local orchard offers newly-minted, exciting, experimental apples that have not yet been given a name. Every year we try apples known only by their numbers and we wait to see which ones make the cut to be honored with a name. We knew the yummy Autumn Crisp when it was only known as NY674.

This orchard has the old apples, the most-favorites apples, the apples you might see in the supermarket, and apples I never see anywhere but this one stand.

Every trip there is an adventure because something new has just ripened and been brought in off the tree. Sometimes, they will walk out to the trees and pick the apples we want, while we wait !

Last week we got Pinovas and Irons and SnapDragons and RubyFrosts and Spartans and Silkens. In weeks to come, we’ll look forward to Autumn Crisp and, especially, the supercalifragi-apple, the Northern Spy.

Did I say we have a dearth of shopping opportunities here?! What was I thinking?! The rest of the world can keep their high-end malls and their Fifth Avenues; I can get pretty much everything I really want or need at a local orchard.

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Can you get what you really want in your immediate locale?

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42 thoughts on “A is for Abundance

  1. I’m an apple fanatic and your post made me salivate! We have orchards selling at our town’s farmers’ market, but no where near the variety of your orchards. Oh boy. I need to fan myself!

    • I wonder if you have varieties we don’t have. When we were in Boston last year, only a 5-hour drive, we saw VERY different kinds of apples for sale than we have in upstate New York. That’s another thing I like about apples–we all have our local celebrities!

  2. Hmmm, Nothern Spy, those apples are like candy. Have not seen them here but my favorite, the Honey Crisp is. And I am spoiled for choice here. To me, Cincinnati has it all, beautiful nature, excellent (local) shops and art and entertainment and above all an abundance of lovely, friendly, good people! Have great weekend Kerry!

    • I like Honey Crisp but I almost never buy them–I fear they are so popular they’ll take over the world! So, I choose the lesser-known ones, so the orchardists know there’s a market for them, too. I have heard very good things about Cincinnati–enjoy!

  3. I have enough shopping opportunities, in general, since I am not much of a shopper. And my life has become pretty simple. When I worked at the bank, finding appropriate career clothes was difficult. Being “petite” contributed to that problem. And when I shopped for a dress for Son’s wedding (next summer) I found it in Oklahoma City, not Iowa City. Otherwise, my clothing needs are generally minor and LL Bean is on my list, too.

    What do we have here? Pork. Really good pork. 🙂

    • What about fabric shops and quilt stuff? Do you have enough of that in your area? We have almost nothing–one speciality shop about 25 miles away. The nearest Joann’s Fabrics is an hour away!!

      • Oh my yes. There are maybe 8 shops within 20 miles or so, and lots more if you’re willing to drive an hour or a little more. And a JoAnn’s, as well.

  4. Our shopping opportunities are dreadful, just dreadful in the immediate vicinity. Not to mention the quality of the restaurants. So I’ve learned to load up the vehicle when I’m “in town” and to order more necessaries on-line. Your descriptions of the apple orchards make me so homesick. New York and New England do apple orchards better than anybody!!

    • Okay, so you must not live right in Richmond. The benefits of a more rural setting are worth the shopping inconvenience, in my book. Except when I really want something and can’t find it, then I change my tune and pout.

  5. I live in California, and I can walk out of my door almost every morning and pick a fresh orange off either my Navel orange tree (for three months or until the squirrels get at them) or my Valencia(Usually good for 8 months as they ripen over an 18 month cycle ) In July and August I can scrounge windfall apricots and peaches from trees along my jogging route. September and October I make a fruit mix for breakfast from my oranges, figs from my Mission fig tree, and maybe some grapefruit from a neighbor. By the end of October most of the local fruit is nearly over, but another neighbor has an avocado tree that is shedding fruit as if it were dandruff – every time I go by I pick up a half-dozen windfalls for sandwiches or garnishes. Sometimes a neighbor will put out a bin of persimmons or pomegranates or kiwi fruit with a sign “help yourself.” I love fruit in season.

    Oh yeah, we have apples, too. But not as crisp and varied as the wonderful upstate New York orchards. Lucky both of us!

  6. What a gorgeous part of the state you live in! I once lived in an agricultural part of this country and enjoyed a glut of almost free fruit and vegetables year round. I was rather shocked when I moved away and discovered I had to pay much more for items that were less fresh!

    I now live in an area renown for it’s natural beauty and is historically rich with the largest surviving amount of old buildings in the country and connections to both the ancient past and our early settler history. We are within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean one way and the bush [native forest] the other way. It’s an easy and scenic drive to several eco-sanctuaries, penguin breeding grounds and gannet breeding cliffs. The mountain plateau which grows soft fruits in the summer is an hour’s drive and the skiing mountains are two hours away. But no-one grows apples!

    • Well, given all the fine things your region offers, I think we can forgive it for not having apples. It sounds like you really love where you live–and I can see why!

    • I’ve been seeing a lot lately about attempts to develop new apples (BIG business) and also to preserve ancient varieties. Apples are trendy, I think. But I was apples before apples were cool. 😉

  7. What lovely photos. 69 cents a pound for those Iron apples….wow!

    I remember when I was just a young girl my father would take me for a ride to Aspetuck Orchards in Fairfield County CT and we’d load up the car with all kinds of apples and eat a few on the way home!

    • That’s the other thing about these orchards–the prices are so much lower than in a store, even for the most popular apples, like Honey Crisp. We bought a LOT of apples, different varieties, and it was $6. Such a deal!

  8. Oh Oh! And I thought England was the Apple Capital of the world. I am beyond jealous. While we can get good local food, from cheeses to – well, most things you need to put good meals on the table – we can’t replicate the cornucopia you present: not at this end of the country anyway. I hope everyone round your way appreciates their luck.

    • I think people do realize that we’re lucky–the area is kind of apple crazy. That doesn’t keep us from wishing we had good cheeses, wines, etc., too, though!

  9. Oh, how I missed my russian apple pick season 🙂 This is a lovely and very sentimental post. But limit of the shopping opportunity kinda make me sad. I like sometimes to go shopping just for inspiration:)

  10. I too love apples. I quickly start a sad withdrawal from summer fruit and all of a sudden apples come into view and life feels right again. We too have apple orchards and farmers markets sporting so many unique apples! I live in Minneapolis and consider it a little big town. It still holds true to its Scandinavian roots and feels small and well connected but it has many large city amenities that surprise me. Shopping is good here, with a high intellectual population reading, libraries, independent book sellers can be found. And the arts are pretty rich here too, again, very good museums. I think the only thing I can complain about is the winters, very cold and very long. But on a bright note, we have beautiful blue skies on the coldest of winter days and that helps! Um, I have a craving to go eat an apple right now!

    • I’ve heard such good things about Minneapolis but I’ve never been. One of the fun things about reading blogs is learning about other regions from people who love where they live–it gives an insider look at the little things that makes a place appealing. Are you buried in snow right now?

  11. Your shopping options sound blissful — I love, love, love new crop apples. I look forward to them every year and always enjoy seeing what new ones appear. We have lots of orchards out in Hood River, about 45 minutes away from Portland, though I usually buy mine at a little fruit market by my house. One thing I can say I’ve never had though is an apple cider doughnut and this brings me great sadness. I’m hoping this year I’ll be motivated enough to try to make them.

    • You live in an amazing region for abundance of good food and drink! But, if you’ve never had an apple cider donut, you’ve been deprived! I might need to go get some right now . . . if I’m lucky, they’ll still be warm.

  12. Apple memories. In my son’s class back in first grade near Rochester (NY), children taste-tested and chose their favorite apples.He chose Empire. … In her 70s, my mother got a bronze door knocker designed that all our friends and family still have on our doors. It’s in the shape of an apple. Get it? “Apple knocker.” I think It was my concept, but she thought it was her own. (What do we have in abundance where I live? Leaves.)

    • Hmmm . . . I’m sad to say I don’t get it–I hate it when that happens! I think the idea of letting kids taste test a bunch of apples is a great idea–and Empire was a good choice!

      • From the time of the Civil War, when farm boys knocked apples off trees with their muskets, downstate New York called upstate New York people “apple knockers.”

      • Really?! That’s fascinating, and weird that I’ve not heard it, since I am an upstate New Yorker, bred and buttered, as they say! Thanks for clarifying, and educating me!

  13. I can almost smell those apples 🙂
    Pumpkins, Apples, Christmas Trees, … all wonderful. I do have to say that I love visiting the Middle Peninsula where crabs and oysters are the big thing. Yum!

  14. Oh lucky, lucky you. Orchard heaven and apple heaven, too. And, of course, I would love to try the Silken being Silkann myself. We don’t have the many orchards close by that I remember from my very young days but there are still a few places to go, and some where you can pick your own. We have plenty of regular shopping options but I dislike shopping so only go if it is absolutely necessary.

    • I dislike shopping, too! The Silken is a beautiful apple, from Canada:
      “Fruit is medium in size and rated very high in appearance and flavour tests. The skin colour is cream having a translucent appearance like white porcelain with a bright lustre. Occasionally a slight pink blush is present but no stripes. Stem-bowl russetting is characteristic but does not extend over the shoulder. Lenticels are inconspicuous. It is firm, crisp and juicy. It is high in aromatic intensity and sweetness and moderate in acidity.”

      I wish I could send you a peck!

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