By LYNN IRONS
Recently, my six-year-old granddaughter, Violet, took her turn saying grace. She said, “Dear God, thank you for a yummy supper. I love my life and I like myself. Amen.” Guess it could never get any better than that. I started thinking about loving my life. What could be better than living on the Vineyard in the late summer and early fall? The light on the water is magnificent, the days are warm and relaxing, the nights are crisp, the gardens are producing like crazy and there are abundant parking spaces.
Because it has been a particularly fruitful year for apples, we have been busy pressing and processing cider. In order to make the project worthwhile it is necessary to have a good amount of apples. I have been fortunate to have my own trees give up several bushels but needed more as I share the pressing with my friend Sharlee.
I bullied my young women workers, Abigail and Seniel, into some tree-climbing and shaking in a horse-filled pasture. Naturally there was head-bonking and laughing. Trying to pick apples while chasing horses away can be quite challenging.
One needs half a bushel to yield one gallon of cider. Operating the cider press is a hard but rewarding task. The apples do not have to be perfect, just clean. They get tossed into the hopper which chops them about a bushel at a time into a big cloth-lined barrel. The lid is adjusted and the press applied until the liquid begins flowing. It attracts yellow jackets so speed is important. We drink as much as is humanly possible for a few days and process the rest in a 185-degree hot water bath for 30 minutes. It will stay good for years in jars so if next year’s crop fails you are still ahead of the game. You have no idea how long store-bought juices hang around. The current economic crisis has renewed my resolve to use what is around in a frugal manner. I purchased some baby chicks about a month ago (Cornish game hens). I will let them grow to about four pounds, which should be around Thanksgiving.
I have an incredible amount of kudzu on the edge of the property. It is an invasive vine impossible to eradicate. I always believed it to be tropical in nature — the kind which could swallow up Volkswagen Bugs down in Georgia, but here it is in New England. It is actually quite pretty right now as it is in flower. It is a pea-like purple bloom. It would literally cover my house within a few years if I did not fight it back aggressively. It is as tenacious as the bittersweet which can be seen 30 feet up into the trees, now that it has its yellow fall color.
I need to take issue with Sarah Palin’s performance in the Vice Presidential debate. I am from a small town (about 400 people) with small-town values. I was taught at an early age to be respectful of my elders, for one thing, and to admire their position in life. For her to quip, “Say it ain’t so Joe” to a United States Senator she had just met on national television doesn’t speak well of her upbringing.
Exactly who is Joe Sixpack? For starters, he can probably only afford two cans in this economy. Are we trying to win over all those folks to whom George Bush appealed? We know how well that worked out for us. Also, it is difficult to believe her sincerity when she had zero response to Senator Biden’s emotional description of the loss of his wife and little girl. Since when is sarcasm a Christian virtue? Her disdain for education and intelligence makes me wonder if we should just vote for American Idol instead.
In order to defend my blatant hypocrisy, I am older than George Bush and am not running for public office.