where the writers are

Over the weekend, I accompanied a friend on his annual trip to Sebastopol, California to buy five bushels of apples. The ones he doesn’t eat, he presses into cider. It’s become a ritual that marks the change of season.

Apple season is different every year, with the different crops ripening earlier or late according to weather patterns. This year we went late in the season, just before the retail shed at the apple farm closed for the winter. We drove along the narrow highway between the vineyards of Sonoma County that have displaced most of the other apple farms. Fall colors were at their height -- the grape vines, sycamore and ginkgo trees were bright oranges and yellows

At the apple farm, we discovered the family had all gone off to a wedding, except for one member who’d stayed behind to sell apples to people like us who found their way out the dirt road to their apple sorting shed. She cut off slices of different varieties for us to taste- Rome Beauty, Pink Lady, Northern Spy, Wagner and others. Each apple had its own distinctive flavor. We loaded five bushels into the trunk of my friend’s car and drove back home in the thin, post-Thanksgiving sunlight. I’m sure there are places to buy bushels of apples closer to home, but I can’t think of a better one.