The Cider Press

The final day of September and the cider press has arrived. It showed up in all its glory packed in Styrofoam peanuts and bestowed upon me by the brown uniformed UPS man. Needless to say my world is all abuzz with excitement. Great plans for this fine item. Of course I do have to note that we are short apples, to be exact we have only three. Now the fact that no one’s been home in the past few weeks to add such necessities to the cupboards might account for this dilemma. Of course I think my significant other’s purchase of this item had been prompted by visions of a late afternoon drive, top down, up to the orchard with the goal of obtaining locally grown crisp red apples. While the image of shifting up through the gears and putting a well-crafted Italian engine through its paces on an early fall afternoon may have been enticing .The fact that the needed several bushels of apples would in no way fit in the fine automobile seemed to have eluded his grasp. But I’m not going to judge at this point. I am simply going acknowledge that we are now the proud owners of a cider press.

My best friend and purveyor of all things southern, New Yorker Edna Greenburg joined me on my patio to await the arrival of, as we were now calling them “The menfolk”. I had strategically placed the box containing our exciting new item” the cider press” on the long table in the hallway where it would be a joy to great my beloveds’ eyes as he returned from a hard week of annoying people in boardrooms all across this great land. Edna had switched from a summer of White Linen perfume to her fall fragrance of choice, Marlboro Light and Private Collection. Now to be honest, I was sure that Estee Lauder had stopped making it ,but my husband had alluded to the fact that he found it somewhere and had Saul, Edna’s other half, stockpile it in a warehouse or something. That being said the Marlboros were from the 7-11 and they had plenty. But Edna was a longstanding Friday cocktail guest at our little week’s ending revelries and we loved both her and Saul dearly. Not to mention, who was to aid in the assembly of our fancy new cider press? Both Edna and I were fairly certain it would end as had the deep fried turkey of 2014. We went out of town Thanksgiving 2015 and thank goodness because there were rumblings of another fried Turkey event. All I can say about the last one is that the new deck on the Mountain house is very nice. And who can forget the GD Christmas lights? Since pre lit was out and it had to be a fresh evergreen, plus we were not about to be so frivolous as to buy new ones every year.Oh well, I’ll never know how they braided themselves into such a tangle and of course ours had the magic one light to magically expire  which took out the whole lot of them once he had them perfectly aligned. GD Christmas lights!   But tonight in the three apple house was  the assembly of our very own cider press and the acknowledgment that wifey hubby time roaring through the foothills,top down,  would be in the backseat of Saul’s SUV to pick up apples.. Both Edna and I cracked open a beer.

Amazing how the whole house vibrates when the garage door opens or is it the fine Italian engine which is supposed to purr like a kitten? Anyhow the first of the menfolk had arrived, the owner of the cider press and the one I laid claim too. Being a early fall afternoon the windows were open allowing the breeze off the mountains to blow in through out the house and sounds to carry. I heard the jingle as keys hit the slate entryway floor and I knew my lover had dropped them as he spied his latest acquisition. Edna and I looked at one another as the sound of tearing into the box emanated through the house. I turned up my beer. What no kiss hello after a week apart? Ah, the sound of metal parts hitting the table. Footsteps down the hall and my dreamboat appeared waving a paper. First a quick kiss, no passionate embrace, but I must see this. Instructions. Assembly required. Oh dear visions or flaming turkeys and arching Christmas lights flashed before my eyes. Luckily the cider press required neither electricity nor extreme heat and boiling oil. Edna and I both heard the heavy tires on the gravel road as Saul, Seer Sucker Saul as my husband called him, due to the fact that he wore nothing but during the summer beach months, pulled his Ranger Rover onto the drive. Now he would be in khaki slacks and any of a number of shirts adorned with their favorite college football teams logos. Schools neither had attended, but both were totally enamored with to the tune of thousands in Athletic fund donations. My precious one smiled to himself as I noted his realization that there were only three parts of “the cider press dreams were made of” to attach together before pressing could occur. Which would not take a hot second with three pithy apples. Oh but wait a minute, I heard the back hatch of Saul’s SUV opening. Dearest sweetheart looked up from his “Cider Press Assembly Instructions” stared straight ahead, and the only way I can describe it is how one looks when one clicks on an interesting Facebook post. Blank at first, then a sparkling recognition and finally understanding flashed across his face as it always did when a plan came together. Saul had brought the apples. Edna across the table simply admired her new nail color, slick and glossy in favorite team colors. I simply shook my head, they must have coordinated it from the air. My ever astounding life’s partner tracking the shipment on his IPhone, and  I hoped he had made dinner reservations too for the larder was bare.

 

Now there is nothing like an early fall afternoon in the Carolina Mountains. Everything seems to be holding its breath waiting on the heat to break and first nip of cool to roll in over the forests. This time of year is also a feeding frenzy for all creatures great and small, the last chance to put on needed weight before the scarcity of winter. I could smell Saul’s cigar floating on the breeze as the master of the Cider Press instructions trotted off to meet him. The excitement was too much. It was also possibly sheer joy over the fine aged Kentucky bourbon they planned to mix with said Cider, but the excitement of presenting the concoction to fellow rabid football fans at tomorrow’s game was palpable. So much for Stan Hicks succulent slow roasted barbeque which was a mainstay and a long held tailgate tradition. I would say since boyhood college days, but since neither Saul nor my love attended during those days, I just have to guess they met through some fundraising function and bonded over their mutual passion for the team. In any case we’d been tailgating with Stan for as long as I had been attached to the man of my dreams and that man challenged the fame of Stan’s barbeque every chance he got. As for barbequing a pig himself, let’s just say we had been down that path and the new garage is very nice and even bigger than the old one. But for this game it is going to be fresh pressed cider and a very fine aged Kentucky bourbon. Edna and I cracked open another brew.

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In the activities of all things female vs the activities of all things male. We discussed our ensembles for tomorrow’s game and festivities. Yes we had brought sweaters, but if it was going to be as hot as it was today, so we probably would wear sundresses, team colors of course. The heat of this Friday afternoon was palpable and somehow being too heavily dressed and imbibing Bourbon Cider cocktails did not seem to have a promising outcome for even making it to halftime conscious tomorrow. I watched several Yellow Jackets and assorted other insects feast on the last remnants of nectar in the flowers around the patio, semi oblivious to the hurry of activity as my soulmate and his accomplice brought one now fully assembled Cider press, apples and large jugs to collect the sweet juice to the corner of the patio so Edna and myself could bear witness to this noble feat. In his glee to pursue the art of cider making, darling hubby still had on his basic oxford cloth shirt although untucked from the shorts he had managed time to slip into, sleeves rolled up, a man on a mission. Saul on the other hand simply wore his well tucked polo and long khakis. Edna and I watched the process, absorbing the warmth of the day in that peaceful haze one gets when all seems right with world and those you love the most are with you. The freshly washed apples went into the press, the manual gears  turned by the man I had given my hand in marriage, a joyful boyish glee in his eyes as the sticky sweet apple scented juice flowed into the large jugs purchased for just  this sacred occasion. Saul stood back, cigar in his mouth and watched the apples being pressed into cider, remnants tossed aside onto the lawn. Rather organic to return them to nature I thought. A gentle breeze blew over us fragrant with apples as my husband attended diligently to his task.

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At first it was about five, drawn from the surrounding woodlands by the scent of sweet apple cider. But a clarion call must have gone out across the valley for they came from all points on the compass and they came quickly. Yellow Jackets, those voracious southern bees that bite and sting. They came by the hundreds and soon they were busily hovering swarming and landing on all things apple cider and more. The top of my beer, Edna’s ash tray, the remnants of pressed apples, and the jugs of juice. They simply dove into the tops of the jugs and floated to what must have been a death in pure apple ecstasy. Saul was blowing smoke at them, which seemed to only heighten their intensity to feast. My beloved? He was a man demon possessed, swatting, and stomping trying to knock them away. My protective instincts must have been nonexistent as I opted for self-preservation and retreated behind the screen door to the interior of our happy home. Outside my heroic knight in shinning armor was on the defense, trying to seal his open jugs and move his now Yellow Jacket covered Cider Press. Oh I could hear his many well executed obscenities as highly irritated Yellow Jackets flew up his shorts taking bites of delicate nether regions and stinging his hands when he slapped them. But always a trooper he grabbed the jugs and with hungry yellow jacket hoards in hot pursuit made haste for the garage. Saul had the forethought, Cigar still dangling from his lips to hose off the cider press before carrying it to  perceived safety . The last Yellow Jacket covered Bushel of apples would have to wait. I heard the front door open, a multitude of choice curse words targeted at the worlds entire population of bees, car keys being grabbed and the door slammed shut. Edna pulled two more beers from the refrigerator handed me one and a Marlboro light. As I flicked the lighter I heard the sound of fine Italian engineering firing up, a car door slam shut and the garage door being lowered. The gassing of the bees had begun. It would be awhile before we knew the outcome of my dear ones revenge upon the voracious Yellow Jackets of the South,but hopefully the cider would be safe.

So this fine Carolina evening my heart of hearts began what would become a passionate romance with Benadryl and Cortisol 10. Tomorrow he would itch beyond his wildest imagination, as for the cider and bourbon? Well he has cracked open one bottle of Bourbon , my suggestion he bathe in it was not accepted in manner it was delivered, but we had overcome moments like this before.He and Saul retreated to his office. I looked at the all knowing eyes of Edna who had ridden the waves of many a turbulent “Really Great Idea” with me, they were sparkling in with some mischievous humor. She extended a well-manicured hand with next week’s football tickets, Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets. Well let’s just be thankful for small favors it was not this week’s opponent because we had already lost. So this last Friday of September Edna and I toasted each other and froze as our eyes locked on  the man with which I planned to spend eternity’s misplaced cellphone as the screen lit up. An order had been placed, look out world boiled peanuts are coming!

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