Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Apple Festival 2008

Growing up, my best friend and I used to eat what we called "Fat Apples." Starting in late summer, we'd be sitting around and one of us would get the hankering. We'd get on our cool sneaks and jog through yards until we got to the trees. There was an orchard about a mile from his house. We'd go up and pick the largest one we could find and try to eat it as we walked home. These were "fat" apples mind you. Easily over a pound each. Over two dollars of apple by yesteryear standards. That's why we stole them. I loved every bite.

Another friend of mine introduced me to hard core leave no trace apple eating. That was a brand new thing for me: taking on an apple down to the seeds, putting the seeds in your pocket, walking them off the trail. I usually found a fertile spot and planted them. I only eat apples this way when I'm camping.

Currently, I probably average five apples a week. It dominates my fruit intake. And over the years, I guess I have become a kind of connoisseur. For those of you in the know, you will agree that of the grocery store variety Gala apples are the best, followed by Fuji. When my future wife and I were dating, I interviewed her once on her apple taste. She told me, straight-faced, that Red Delicious were her favorite. It still ranks as the only thing I have changed about her in nine years.

Our town puts on an apple festival each year at Bethabara Park. It is a great time. It's more than the apples. It's the old-timey games, the bluegrass music, the atmosphere in general. Anna Rose loves the horses. Mommy loves the cider. I love the apples. I love it all, really. One of the local vendors turned me on to his Jonagold's, a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Jonathon. Man, was it good. I've been eating them all week.

All this apple stuff has gotten me reminiscent. More than any fruit, the apple has shaped me - my understanding of a balanced diet, my compulsive drive to acquire massive amounts of fluoride, my love of all things crispy. I love them. I really do. Sharing it with Lia and Anna Rose, friends like the Andersons, Briggs, Murphees, and Williams at the Apple Festival makes it all the more tasty. Thanks y'all for coming with us. I can't wait for next year!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I should have picked up on it when Lia decided to take the morning off work just because the night before Anna Rose sort of kind of had a little bit of a running nose. But I didn't. I wasn't expecting it. Tomorrow was no big deal.

There are other days. You know, the big ones, like dropping them off at college, or their wedding. But the first day of preschool? Come on. To fall to pieces over that! To become such an emotional wreck you can't do anything but blubber for an hour! Over preschool! I was seriously unprepared. I was unprepared on many fronts.

No one warned me that it would be this hard: this first tangible experience of handing over. I waited with bated breath to hear how she did. The first thing I wanted to know was if she cried. The second was if she wanted to be held the whole time. The third was whether she had fun. Yes.

But Ms. Tana also told me that "She did awesome." So I have to believe that it was the right decision. Preschool will mold and shape her in ways that I can't. I have to believe that. And it is true. But it doesn't make the letting go any easier.

Fil, a friend of mine, shared with me a story he shared with another one of his friends, Tom, as Tom was preparing to give away his daughter to a young man. Fil said that he was told by an older man that when each of his children were born he imagined it was like God had given him a fistfull of balloons. And on each one of those eventful days, like the first day of preschool, he would imagine letting one balloon drift off into the sky. He would do this at each major event all the way up to the last one, the day his child got married. He shared the image really comforted him. Tom listened and thanked Fil for the story. A week later, his daughter was married. A week and a day later, my friend Fil received a call from Tom. He said, "Tell your friend with the balloons that he's full of shit." Amen brother. Amen. It ain't that easy balloon man.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Dash to the Teat...

...was the way Robbie "quadzilla" Mills sold it. Robert "veins of tungsten" Milam, Chris "if I can hike the AT I can do anything" Turner, Michael "power of the Celtic" Hummel, Greg "eye of the hurricane, teeth of the tornado" Amweg, and me were the ones who bought it. In the end, all six of us did it. 30 miles of pure awesome slash pure pain.
The challenge came from two angles. The first being that none of us are bikers. I was the the only one with a road bike (having been loaned it the day before by my father inlaw). Mills and CT had hybrids though CT's back wheel was half flat (or half full depending on how you looked at it). Milam and Hummel had mountain bikes that had at least been sat upon a half-dozen times in the last five years. And Amweg was on his, the one he got in sixth grade, the one he last rode to go yard saling around the neighborhood with Mark Carter in eighth grade. So equipment was an obstacle to overcome. The second was the mountain itself. Getting to the base of the mountain is tough enough - 30 miles of the rolling hills of the Peidmont. But once there, you have a 1,400 feet up a 10% grade to manage. It's two miles of your heart stretching your chest cavity to the breaking point.
...but biking, walking, crawling we all made it, and we have the pictures to prove it! Looking forward to the next thing, bros.