Gardener's Grapevine 2011.09.28

Written by David Green.

It’s officially fall and mixed emotions play through me. I love the seasonal changes, but as I age the prospect of winter seems less and less exciting.

Kids have none of these thoughts; they live in the moment and their biggest thoughts are of the next holiday or main event on the horizon. Fall means Halloween and winter means snow days and Christmas. I guess that’s why everyone enjoys seeing the world through a child’s eyes—it’s all beauty and fun.

One of my favorite things in the fall is fresh apple cider. A lot of farmers pasteurize their cider, which means it’s cooked to kill all the bacteria. That’s not all they kill, the taste is dramatically different, too.

Usually I don’t endorse anyone for anything, but a good product is worth telling about. Since I was small I remember going to Pennington Orchard off of U.S. 20 for produce and fresh cider. As a child it never occurred to me how cider was made, I just knew that it was good. They do not pasteurize it, so it is fresh and crisp like a new apple.

Not long ago I spoke with Larry Pennington about the cider and his history with it. He informed me his father taught him to make cider and now he is teaching his grandson. Thank goodness for families that hand down their talents. No cider from Pennigton’s is like no nativity at Christmas.

Apples are another part of fall. I have never encountered a person who dislikes apples. There are so many things to do with them and so many varieties. Art’s favorite is an apple called an Arkansas Hard. It is a tart, crisp apple and he describes them as the extreme of everything—hardness, tartness and flavor.

Many people in Morenci will remember Tom Horton and his cider. It was good, just like Pennington’s, because he learned to make it from Mr. Pennington.

Larry Pennington said one time they got together to make cider and Tom put his apples in the press. Larry was working the press, when the cider started running darker than usual. He shut the press down and yelled to Tom to stop feeding the apples, an animal must have gotten in the press. Tom laughed at him and explained he had put red beets in with the apples to darken it and add more sweetness.

Cider from an orchard is all natural and by law cannot have anything unnatural added. Larry explained to me that a cider press is held to extreme cleanliness and sanitary standards and that an animal can’t be anywhere near it. For this reason he is extremely cautious in all he does to press cider. Whatever it is he’s doing, he’s doing it perfectly.

Now where are the donuts?

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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