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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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