I find the longer I live in Texas, the more I miss “Fall.” I miss the fall of my childhood, where it became time for sweaters, jean jackets, boots, and hats. I miss apple picking and walks at the local nature preserve. I miss jumping into a giant pile of leaves.
One of my favorite memories from childhood was visiting a small apple cider mill. A two minute drive from the nature preserve brought us to a rural back road with large houses and huge woodsey lawns with mature trees and little ponds. I would watch from the car as we took tiny lanes that only fit one car at a time around tight curves and over hills. The leaves were bright reds, yellows, oranges, and browns, abundant both in the branches and on the ground. We would eventually stop at a house on a hill. The driveway was treacherous but part of the fun. If your car could make it to the top of the hill you were rewarded with barking dogs, an apple orchard and a barn. The best part was inside the barn. Large bins filled to the brim with every apple and pear imaginable was waiting for you along with a description of what it tasted like and how to use it. The man running the show had a successful business running a marketing firm in NYC at one time, but his hobby was making apple cider. You would fill your bag as much as possible with all the apples you could carry and then buy a pint or gallon of the fresh apple cider, a different recipe each week. If I was lucky, my parents would let me buy a doughnut or we would come home with an apple pie. This was a tradition we had for years, almost every weekend in the fall.
My parents froze a bottle and sent it to me, and I have been savoring it ever since. Think I can make it last until Thanksgiving??