Tuesday, October 28, 2008

corn maze

I uploaded some more pictures from Columbus Day weekend and was reminded that we also went to Mike's Maze on one of the clearest and more beautiful Autumn days I have experienced. Farming is a difficult livelihood in our modern times and more and more farms are need to diversify to make a living and stay on the land. One farm in the area makes and amazing corn maze each year (take a look at aerial photos here) and has a few weeks in Autumn when they are packed with visitors.

They sell pumpkins and squash and have a "corn cafe" with grilled corn on the cob, caramel apples and the like. Miryam was especially enamored with the pony rides. She's decided that we should take riding lessons together in the spring and I am all for it. There is a local farm that forms classes based on skill, not age, which would put us in the same class to start.

The maze was actually more fun last year - the theme was music - the maze was shaped like Luis Armstrong and you had a list of familiar songs to take with you. All along the paths there were these little places where a string was hung horizontally with metal tubes hanging off it. You were given a stick and when you dragged it down the line of tubes it made music and you had to name the song from your list. (did that all make sense?). Each tube was a different note and if you dragged the stick at the same speed the distance between the tubes would create the right pauses and rhythms. It was so much fun. This year you mostly got points for finding each of the boxes as you went around. There wasn't much of a game too it. Apparently the farmer's son (who used to design the games) went off to college... We did get enough points, however, to take out own pumpkin home. Miryam has claimed it as the first pie pumpkin of the season.

This year we spent much less time in the maze and much more time playing in the bales of hay. I remember reading Sarah Plain and Tall as a child and because she missed sliding down the sand dunes in Maine they set her up a hay-slide instead. Well we had out own hay slide and it was great but boy do those bits of pointy hay get into your clothes! I think the writers of those romantic stories that talk about young lover taking a "tumble in the hay loft" have clearly not tried it themselves. Ouch!

p.s. I know that all the photos are of mimi but it was one of those family-visit weekends where all the pictures seem to be posed...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Autumn is apples

Though I love my place on the Earth during all seasons, Autumn is an especially lovely time to be in New England. Not only are the colors amazing but there are so many community/agricultural events to fill your days and keep you outside when the weather starts to remind you of how nice it is reading a book under the feather comforter. Many of these, for our family at least, revolve around apples.

We innagurated the apple season with a trip to a local orchard that was new to us. A few of the local schools take field trips there and we decided to take a visit with our good friends Meg & Thom and their girls Aviva and Liesl. Meg and I met around three and a half years ago when she hired the midwife I studied with to attend her birth. They had just moved to the area and Miryam was half a year old when Aviva was born and so we got to know each other quite well during those early mama months. Our second children were born within two weeks of each other and now when we are together we are quite out numbered.

The apples went into 2 dozen jars of apples sauce and two apple crisps (yum). It took us two days and we clearly will need more apples sauce to get through the winter. I trying to find the guts to commit to making some more but it is such a production. Next year we need to make sure to completely clear the whole weekend for saucing, have the papa's around t0 help with the littles and some hard cider and munchies to keep our strength (and courage) up.

The following weekend Andy's mom came for her traditional Columbus Day visit and we traveled to our usual orchard. It's up high in the hills with a great view but the apples were a bit sad this year and difficult to pick as they were so high up. They also are a "spray all we like" orchard and were more than doubly more expensive than our new "low-spray" orchard.

The thing that made it all worth it in the end was our picnic of sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, apples picked minutes before, cold cider, and burning hot, fresh cider donuts. Very dangerous and very delicious. Miryam also got to test out her tree-climbing skills. Apples trees are clearly the best for climbing and our house has exactly zero climbing trees. I consider tree-climbing an essential skill for childhood so we made sure to get lots of practice at the orchard.

These apples were snacked on throughout the week (and many were found half eaten and forgotten throughout the house) and then made into a double batch of apple butter. It cooked and cooked and cooked in Meg's oven and tastes delicious. I have big plans for fresh bread, butter and apple butter breakfasts this week.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

brother and sister

This is what happens when papa takes the kiddies to the coop. √Čamonn is very lucky to have such a sister. He's starting to get a bit more "fun" for Miryam to play with and he is so big and strong we aren't terribly worried that she is going to break him. The newest game is to have mama pop him up in the laundry basket so she can bring him toys and tell him stories. My mom taught me that trick when Miryam was small - when they are big enough to sit up, but too small to crawl their toys are always rolling away from them, but in the basket they stay nice on your lap, you stay cozy on these autumn mornings, and your big sister can give you a puppet show.

Does it get better?