Squeezing the Juice From the Season

There is nothing like a Saturday morning in November to make you stand up straight and take clear-eyed notice of the world. Of the crisp air and fresh colors, the sweetly rotten smell of leaves being pulverized underfoot.

leaves underfoot

Both Gil and I could easily stay home and work all day, bent over our books, leaning into our computer screens. But we were drawn out into the Saturday sunshine. drive, he sd, as poet Robert Creeley wrote.

Autumn Leaves 2

We remarked as we spun along the little roads on every jolt of red.

red tree

Some unexpected graffiti on the side of a concrete shed oddly did the opposite of marring the rural scene. It underscored fall’s beauty with its blast of a message.


Down the road from the Cabin we passed an arch of shrubbery above a stone gate that opens into a mysterious vacant pasture. I never get tired of looking at it.

Shrub in Stone Door

And I never get tired of visiting Thompson’s Cider Mill, where Geoff Thompson combines up to twenty varieties of fresh apples into a juice that is pure nectar. He makes his cider every weekend, and every weekend it is a different brew.


When you buy apples at Thompson’s, you get to see each one’s heritage marked above the bin. The history of apples is vast and rich, and here you can taste history–when you bite into an heirloom Newtown Pippin, say, first grown from a chance seedling in the mid-18th century.

Apples 1

Out of the wealth of choices we’ve taken most of all to the Jonathans, which are grown right in this orchard and are sweet and tart, firm and compact.


If you come on a Saturday morning you can watch the thoroughly up-to-date press do its business, mashing the fruit into not only a liquid but also a paste that will later be tossed to the pigs at a local organic farm. Keats talked in Ode to Autumn about how by a cider-press, with patient look,/Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours. This is where those oozings happen. Geoff handed around small plastic cups to catch some of the new cider as it ran out of the press.

cider press

We sipped. “Perfect blend,” said Geoff. I agreed. “Wish I could figure out how to do that every time,” he said with pleasant self deprecation. This mill does make the best cider in the land, and that’s not opinion but fact. They also have on hand my namesake fruit.

lady jean

Next stop, the Hastings Farmer’s Market, overlooking the Hudson River. A produce stand at the end of the season has its own distinctive merits. No sweet, fuzzy peaches, perhaps, but turban squashes and sugar pumpkins and the dark leafy kale your doctor wants you to eat more of. The singer Milton was performing his song In the City when we arrived.


I like the song. It does capture the effervescence of New York. Though it seemed less relevant today with the trees aflame in the cool, cool, quiet air.

The woman who worked the booth for Cowberry Crossing was off on a coffee run, so Reese and I together worked out the numbers for a pair of pork chops and a bag of chicken feet. Inaccurately, it turned out when mom returned.


He was a great little salesman anyway. I am devoted to using chicken feet to make stock – you need a soup foul first, then throw in the feet in addition – and I used to have a chicken farm down the road where I could buy them in five-pound freezer bags. I’ve gotten a little squeamish about how the toes resemble an old lady monster’s, with manicure-worthy nails. But they make such a velvety broth, it’s worth the psychic discomfort.

chix ft

Over at Do Re Me Farms, they still had some green beans, zucchini and cranberry beans.

cranberry beans

It was wicked cold behind the cash register, and everyone was shivering.

mushrooms guy

Mushrooms, a variety, were my choice. To add to a risotto or simply.saute and devour.


There was less produce than usual, more maple syrup, cider, pickles. Here they make a big thing out of offering pickles on sticks to children, like sour lollipops.


Painted Goat Farm is an artisan cheese producer located upstate in Garrattsville (now that is a true New York name). They offer goat cheese both fresh and aged, along with goat meat and what they call goat confections. They were out of the aged and I didn’t care for any goat confections, so I took home the fresh with garlic and chives.

goat cheese

The farm’s herd now stands at 85 – the females are “drying up” at the moment, I was told, and will give birth in February, when the babies will drive the count up to over 100. I’d like to pay them a visit then. If I had any kind of farm it’d be a goat farm. I love goats, both how satanic their eyes look, and their pure and total determination.

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Filed under Cooking, Culture, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Music, Nature, Poetry, Writers, Writing

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