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August 7, 2010

Early Orchard Expedition, or We'll Be Back For You, Paula Reds!

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We just couldn't help ourselves when I checked my Wilson's Orchard bookmark and found that the orchard was open for business this weekend, and piled into two cars under stormy skies to pluck the first of autumn's bounty from apple trees laden with heavy green-pink varietals. Marmee, D, and Erin, visiting for the weekend, braved the downpour to gather a basket full of Zestar eating apples and a handful of tart Paula Red baking apples.

As always with Wilson's, our hunt begins in the cozy barn, warm on the rainy Saturday morning with the aroma of baking turnovers and apple cider. We mill around the sample table, tasting the ripe varieties like St. Edmund's Pippin and the Duchess of Oldenburg, before making our decision to fill our basket with Zestar on a recommendation from a volunteer. But, Joel has promised his delicious apple tart, so we opt to find a few Paula Reds, too.

We then go to the map, an outdated, but detailed aerial photo of the entire orchard, and made a plan with the owner and proprietor of Wilson's for some tips on finding our intended treasures. "The Zestar," she says, "will be easy. They're just over the bank, behind the parking lot." But, "the Paula Reds," she warns, "those will be a challenge. They're beyond the pond, way to the southwest, past the farm road, in the middle of a row of another variety. And there are only about four trees."

We promise that we're up for the challenge, and march off toward the Zestar in the drizzle. We quickly and easily gathered up a bunch of beautiful, crunchy apples, and were making our way around the pond toward the Paula Reds when it really begans to pour. We split up, in order to find the Paulas more quickly, hunting up and down about three acres worth of orchard: Song of September, Macoun, Snow, Wolf River 1888, Autumn Red, Honeycrisp, Surprise, Victory, Arlet, Liberty, Novaspy, Cortland, Prairie Spy, Red Baron, State Fair, York, and on and on and on.

But, no Paulas. Never any Paulas.

After an hour of hunting, chilly and drenched, we made our way back into the barn without the prize Paulas. Luckily, the volunteers had harvested a few baskets of the Paulas that morning, and we were able to snag a few to add to our basket. But, I feel a little defeated that we didn't find the trees ourselves.

Joel, Henry, Adelaide and I will be back in the 3rd week of September when the Honeycrisps are ready to be picked, and if it's a sunny day, we'll take a little more time and go looking for those elusive Paula Red trees again.



August 2, 2010

Dragonfly Girl

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Adelaide had her four year-old check up today and is progressing toward real school-aged girlishness ...

Weight: 36.5 pounds, 50th percentile
Height: 41 inches, 50th percentile

But, is just growing, growing, growing in other ways, too ...

Dorothy of the Oz books and Pippi Longstocking continue to be a huge favorites.

Adelaide will be one of the oldest kids at her preschool this year as many of her friends will be off the Kindergarten.

She is always game to discuss potential Halloween costume choices, including Dorothy, Pippi, and fairy princesses.

She has a running catalog of bugs that she notes and minds, including ticks, worms, earwigs, and spiders.

Adelaide did a Papa Dunk this year in swimming lessons, submerging her head all the way under the water and holding her breath.

She says smartish, adult-y things like, "They [Joel and I] haven't told me what the plan is."

Adelaide seems to be finishing her phase of calling us "Joel" and "Aimee," and now calls us "Daddy" and "Mom".

She insists on a rousing chorus of "Grand Old Flag" whenever she sees the Grand Old Flag.

She is a real cheerleader for Henry, loving and caring for him so completely, challenging him to do new things, and sweetly calling him by a little nickname "Cutie Kisser".