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.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.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in 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.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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