And Then it was Fall

by

I could feel it in the breath of air as I rode my bicycle to BART this morning.

Fog.

Chill.

There was a cold wind blowing.

And I felt it all the way in Oakland, all the way down International Avenue, all the way across the Bay, I could feel that slight change heralding the end of summer and the fall soon to come.

I knew it was going to be a short-lived hot spell, but my it was grand the whole three days it lasted.

I suppose there will be a few more warm days before we head into the dark and the drear.  October in San Francisco really is spectacular.  And as I rode my bike from the shop tonight on a mad dash to Rainbow before it closed, I was at work late for a staff meeting, I was glad for the chilling off.

It is not cold, yet, but the chill was on the air.

I love fall.

It is my favorite season.

First, it is apple season and they are coming in spectacularly.  I just ate the most delectable Honey Crisp–fine crisp, juicy white flesh, with a sweetness almost bordering on vulgarity.  It was so pungent and ripe in my nose it was blasphemous.

I must say I vacillate between the ripe dark sweet fall apple and the high summer yellow nectarine as my two favorite fruits.

The apple may win by default as I consistently buy them.  I eat a lot of apples.  They are my go to snack.  But I am picky to the point of being pissy about them.

They have to be organic.

They cannot be Red Delicious.  Red Delicious are the Kool Aid of the apple kingdom.

I will eat a Red Delicious if it is the only piece of fruit I am able to source, ie at Burning Man or on the road.  But even then, I do not deign to eat them.  Too mealy, too plain, to blah.

I am also a size queen.

I like the big ones.

But not the mushy, soft flesh ones.

Big, strong, firm.

I am talking about apples here, ahem, get your mind out of the gutter, er the apple barrel.

I also like a little snap to them, a little bite, a touch of wildness, a tang, a tartness.

I do not like them too sweet, robust, yes, fleshy yes, but not syrupy, and some apples have been bred to that.

I will pass on your Golden Delicious, or any other yellow apple, unless again, that is all there is around.  I do not care for the Galas, the Golden’s, or the Delicious, not big on the Braeburns either, little too mealy.

Pacific Rose.

Pink Ladies

Jonathans.

Jonagolds.

Courtlands.

Arkansas Blacks.

These are a few of my favorite things.

Secondly, fall brings that aforementioned chill, the crisp edge to the air, the spiciness of summer fading into winter, and the divinity of the good layering.

It is the season of snuggling.

I like a good snuggle.

A good apple, a good snuggle.

A good fuck.

Oops.

How did that get in there?

Where was I?

Oh yes, chill.  But not a damp chill, it is a bright coldness that autumn brings, and then there are the pumpkins starting to pile up in the stores and the small gourds, and the sudden prevalence of nutmeg and clove, ginger and cinnamon, all spice, and wood  burning.

The dry edge of a large maple leaf crumbling in my hand as bent to catch the leaf escaping as I swept the floor of the shop today.

Fall

And then it was fall.

It reminds me of Wisconsin.

Just briefly, momentarily, and the sing of the apple press at my grandparents house as we pushed in the windfall apples from the orchard, the wasps that would gather from the sweetness plunging into the air.

Nothing, absolutely nothing tastes as good as cold cider frozen topped from a deep freeze in the basement of the house in Windsor.

The orchard on a bad year put out about 60 bushels of apples–we had fourteen tree, four Red Delicious, one Golden Delicious (so wild and so sweet the skin was translucent with juice and the birds almost always ate the fruit before it could ripen), six Courtland, three pear trees (Red Bartlett’s)–and in a good year over 85 bushels.

The Red Delicious always ended up in the cider press, and almost never in my mouth, the jams, the jellies, or the countless pies I baked over the years.

I learned how to bake a true hand scratch pie at the age of twelve.  Roll out crusts, hand done, all of it.  I still to this day make an awful good pie, despite not having made one in some time.

I can still see my mom’s pie crust recipe written out on a notecard that she kept in the junk drawer next to the silver ware drawer along the long yellow formica counter top under the back kitchen window.  It was a white card.  It was a simple recipe.  I could tell it to you now.

But then I would have to kill you.

My mom forgot the recipe and once called me from Wisconsin after I had moved to San Francisco asking for it.

I almost did not give it to her.

But, then again, the woman did birth me, after all.

We also made apple sauce and apple butter.

Anything apple, I knew how, still know how, to make.

Apple treacle?

Apple coffee cake?

Apple jam, jelly, butter, cider, sauce, pie, cake, brown betty, cobbler, pancakes, pan dowdy, and then there was just the best thing going–a fresh picked apple with a sprinkle of salt.

Might take the prize for my favorite fruit of all time.

A nectarine does not blossom under a pinch of salt, whereas an apple becomes something wanton and gregarious and slightly sinful in your mouth.

I see why Eve ate it.

The snake sprinkled it with salt.

Adam was not aware of the spice cabinet yet.

Mores the pity.

Fall, a season briefer, perhaps than summer in San Francisco, and therefor to be relished and revelled in as I am here in the prettiest month of the year before I go.

I should head up to the Redwoods and get in a hike before I go.

And maybe a bag of apples from a road side stand.

 

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