Organic apples? Really? Organic macoun? You’ve got to be kidding! Jet lag be damned. I’m there.
I find my way there eventually ending up on small, twisty roads. – a great sign! I pull into the parking lot and my enthusiasm begins to waver as I see parking lot attendants [yes, plural] and rows and rows and rows of cars [i eventually count 6 rows and estimate roughly 15 cars/row].
Dam! I am no longer in Kentucky. There is no denying it. It is understandable, though – a wonderful autumn day, fresh apples, organic orchard, tri-state region. I get it. I accept it. I mean, I am here for the same reasons.
I put on my game face, head down and bolt for the store. Gotta make this a short visit.
And then it hits me, conditions that support my waning enthusiasm: a bouncy castle and face painting.
No. I’m sorry. Apple orchards in September are temples. They are holy sites; Mecca, if you will. It is a time and place where all the all the sacred elements of the Sun, great soil complex, rain, air and biology synergistically emerge in the shape, color, and taste of a crisp, sweet and tart apple. Heavenly perfection. Nirvana.
I did all I had to not go Jesus on these money changers.
I got bumped. I had to stand in line. I laughed (internally) at the orchard tourists, SLR digital cameras and camel packs, you know, so that they do not die of dehydration walking around the orchard picking apples. An oblivious mouth-breather jumps line to buy two Boylan sodas. Does he not respect that this is the closest he’ll ever get to Kazakhstan, home of the domestic apple? Where is his reverence? To avoid gong postal, I start chanting (internally), “O.M….O.M. Organic Macoun…”
They take credit cards. I don’t have to sign as it is under $50. Great. In & out and nobody gets hurt.
And then, it melts away. Less than 3 miles from the orchard and with 2/3rds of the first macoun melting into my system, I am transported to my Malus Temple; to Kazakhstan.
pros – organic, macoun, doughnuts;
cons – bouncy castle, face painting, plastic bags, 100 cars during peak times
pros – 75+ varieties of apples*, Trudy**, homemade apple pies, 10 cars in the lot at peak;
cons – conventional apples, not one macoun tree left 😦
– it is a wash – both orchards sit atop my top 10 apple orchard list between KY , NY & VT. while Trudy is worth about two pros (see below), organic apples essentially count as two. if they were across the road from one another, which if that happend there would be a tear in the fabric of the universe, a black hole would form and it would collapse upon itself.
* – this diversity of varieties is nearly Inkan in its stability in production. the diversity buffers it from poor growing conditions. for example, in 2007 when central KY experienced an early, warm spring followed by a hard frost and minor drought, most orchards in the area lost much of their fruit. Reed Valley lost much fruit, too. however like farms of the Inkas, the variety of apples planted in the orchard essentially guaranteed continuous fruit despite poor weather or weather events. some of their usual varieties didn’t produce, but they brought out about 5-6 other varieties during that season they normally do not promote. as a biologist, i loves this. it is thrilling.
** – Trudy is almost worth two pros. She shares the equivalent of an apple as she gives you samples from the 5-8 variety of apples available for picking so you know exactly what you are purchasing. the funnest part of this is that Trudy eats right along with you, slice for slice. I’ve tried to calculate how many apples she eats a day during peak season. I’m guessing 5? 6?
I’ve studied apple orchards like I’ve studied soft-serve ice cream stands across the eastern US. And, like the angle of slanted windows on these stands and their positive correlation with ice cream quality (texture and creaminess; r = 0.67, p<0.01 – though this relation is non-linear at the margins of window angle), there a strong relationship between the carnival elements at an orchard and the quality of apple. In this case, however, the relationship is negative: the greater the number of carnival elements (face painting, bouncy castles games, etc), the lower the quality of apple (texture, crispness and genuine, intended flavor of each variety). Priests & priestesses of Malus need to focus solely on the product, not the tinsel. Please. I’ve studied this. Reed Valley has none of those things on a day-to-day basis while the other two orchards in the Lexington area have these things. The other orchards produce inferior apples compared to Reed Valley. Another example of this issue at Fishkill are their plastic bags. If they truly cared about their apples, they would offer papers bags as Reed Valley does. Apples last longer in paper. It is no secret.
I have to say that while I enjoyed the 1st macoun, it was not the best I’ve ever had. But, this is only an N of 1. Time for more replication.