The Apple Cider Press


apple cider2I read a post a couple of days ago,called “Apples.”  The author, Sue, and I both committed to writing a post a day during October.  She based her post on a writing prompt “if you were an apple, what kind of apple would you be?”  Of course I would be a Pink Lady.  Of course: sweet-tart, crisp, clean and pleasant, but a bit thin-skinned.  That said, all that apple reminiscing made me think about apple picking and cider and a certain obscure memory from my early teen years.

Weekends got filled up with road trips and picking things:   walnuts, and hickory nuts and pears and apples.  Dad loaded up the car.  Mom sat in the front seat, a baby on her lap and a lucky kid squeezed in the middle between them.  The rest of us piled in the back seat.  When I was a little, little girl, me and Bonita liked to make a nest in the back window and sit up there.  That was the berries, I’m telling you. Later, we had a station wagon and we could spread out like royalty.  I liked to sit in the way-back with the Little Kids, if Mom was driving, cuz she was always asking me or Deanna to get out and do stuff for her; like ask for directions, or go in and buy the day old bread.  If I was in the way-back, it was too hard for me to get out.  If Dad was driving, I sat in the back seat.  Dad never asked me to get out and do stuff.  He liked to get out and stretch his legs and talk to people any chance he got.

Once,  we stopped at an apple orchard with an honest to goodness cider press.  I never knew whether Dad planned to go there, or he just saw it and stopped.  Probably the last thing, cuz he liked to drive around and go down roads he never turned down before and discover things.  Anyways, he parked the car right in front of the cider press so we could watch and find out how cider got made.

You don’t really want to know about cider making if you have a weak stomach.  All the apples that fell on the ground, or had a bruise, or a worm hole, or was half rotten got thrown into bushel baskets and got pulverized in the cider press.

“Yuck, that’s disgusting,” said Bonita.

“Those apples are perfectly good,” said Mom.  “They’re called seconds.”

“Some of them look rotten and wormy,”  said Bonita.

Bonita was always a little on the squeamish side.

“That’s how the cider gets its tangy flavor,” said Mom.  “Besides, any worms just add a little protein.”

She laughed at her joke.  I thought it was a joke, anyways.  I laughed, too.

“Look at that guy,” said Deanna.

A man-boy, about the color of a chestnut, loaded apples into the cider press.  He had his shirt off, and his skin was as shiny as my horse, Red, after a hard run.  The man-boy’s longish hair was brown with streaks of blonde, like he was one of the Beach Boys, or he put Summer Blonde on it to make it look cool.  He loaded bushel basket after bushel basket of apples into the top of the cider mill.  The apples squeaked and squished until juice came out and ran down the sides of the press and into a trough.  Apple bits came out the other end.

We stopped thinking about bruised apples, or worms, or what the heck was taking Dad so long to come back to the car.  We just watched the man-boy load apples into the cider press.

Dad loaded bags of apples into the way-back.  He gave one of his big hurumphs as he swung the way-back door down.

“We have plenty for eating and applesauce,”  he said.  “I got a really good deal.  Plus I got us some donuts and cider thrown in for free.”

“Did you see the guy working the press?”  Mom asked.

“Where?”

“Right there.”  Mom let out a little hurumph of her own, only hers sounded more like the sigh she usually makes after she’s finally got the check-book balanced.

“That guy with his shirt off?”

“Yeah, look how hard his muscles are working,” chimed in Deanna.

“He’s all sweaty,” said Bonita.

“That guy?”

“Yeah, that guy.  He’s working really hard.  Look at his muscles ripple.”

“Why he doesn’t even have hair under his arms,”  Dad said.

I know the Little Kids were there, crammed into that station wagon somewhere.  I have no memory of anything they said or did; just Bonita and Deanna and Mom and me watching the man-boy; I mean the cider press.

Every October G-Money brings home cider and donuts from the local store.  For some reason, I always think about the man-boy and his shiny, muscled body, and my dad pointing out that the hairlessness of the man-boy’s armpits.  I think Dad was a little peeved at Mom.

I never tell G-Money about the man-boy.  I just sigh as a savor the sweetness of my favorite cinnamon-sugar donuts and the tartness of the cider.  Mmmmm…..  Memories.

 

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