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Hood River Valley apples

Growing up in Northern New Mexico (well before the era of the gourmet grocery store), I only knew of two kinds of apples: red delicious and green delicious. Produced just for grocery stores, they were uniform in size, flavorless, and mealy and squishy — not something you wanted to eat once a day, much less once a year.

After moving to Oregon and near a major apple-producing area, I discovered the joy of apples. I had no idea. The sweetness of the Fuji apple, the tart-tinged sweetness of the Honeycrisp, the juiciness of the Elstar, the crispness of the Empire.

Fall weekends find us out in the Hood River Valley, visiting its small, family-owned orchards and stocking up on apples. We’ve gotten so familiar with many different varieties that we can identify them in a lineup.

Fresh apples in a lineup

Starting with the smallest apple, do we have

a) Honeycrisp, Gala, Jonagold, Fuji or

b) Gala, Jonagold, Fuji, Honeycrisp, or

c) Fuji, Gala, Jonagold, Honeycrisp?

(The correct answer is C.)

Like many people, my favorite season is fall (I realize that statement assumes living someplace with seasons). Sure, I love to wear sweaters and boots, but I also the contrasts brought on by all the colors. Not just the contrast in the leaves, but also the contrast of the trees against buildings or how they make eye-catching spots in a landscape, such as walking through the leaf-strewn paths below the tall trees of Warsaw’s Lazienki Park or the brilliant red foliage fighting for attention with the red barns that dot the rural Michigan or the rustling sound of golden aspens among the Ponderosa pines in New Mexico.

Aspens in New Mexico

Although, it seems that no matter where I’ve been in autumn, you can always find what we refer to as “alien gourds.” Hmmm. I wonder if there’s some kind of vast, uncovered conspiracy going on…?

A selection of alien gourds

You might also enjoy ‘Tis the season to roast green chiles.