Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Clearing lines, clearing apples?

So the electric company clears branches from the power lines, in their ongoing maintenance to avoid a repeat of the extended outages we had in the Ice Storm of '98. They hire a pretty decent tree-cutting company to do so. Vaillancourt (if I spelled it right) tends to cut very tidily, stacking the branches and logs away from lawns and traveled ways. On the other hand, they mostly cut as to what's needed for the lines, over what might be best for the tree (in my very limited clue about trees) (although I suspect they'll do both when they can). This is all well and good, and in fact is why there's habitat for Indigo Buntings near our otherwise fully wooded second-growth land.

On the other hand, they don't come knocking on your door to say, "Hey, we'll be cutting off another 5 branches from your maple that we could've done last year" or "Hey, just want to let you know that we're taking the entire top third of your apple tree." I wish they had! I walked out in the front yard the other morning, and thought "that's odd, it seems lighter than it should be." And yup, looking around, exactly those branches/tops were gone.

The maple was (is?) a very lovely open-grown sugar maple. (Maple identification: Forestry at or Mass Maple ) Now, it's about half the tree it was... The raspberry brambles will probably be thrilled next spring. (And I'm going to pull those branches -- some of them) back over for my next year's firewood-seasoning pile.)

The apple is one of about a half-dozen still surviving (there are some dead ones) from the time when this was half-pasture/half-orchard. The state actually has a program for saving and releasing old apples like this; I'd've liked to take out 2 of the 4 maples crowding it (except they also guard it from the depredations of the snow plow). It's by far the largest (trunk diameter at least 12 inches) and probably the healthiest of the lot (or was? Spring will tell).

Windfall applesWindfalls, been on the ground for weeks

I wish I knew what kind of apple it is! My best guesses are something crossed with Lodi or Yellow Transparent (clues from Vermont Apples). The fruit ripens more latish summer/early fall -- why didn't I take better notes at the time? Argh -- which is a bit late for both those varieties, though. Except that we're up the mountains, so maybe not.

The fruit is about 3 inches in diameter, and yellow-gold with some red streaking. It's tart and fairly crisp at first, and then the windfalls are very mushy. The flesh browns quickly. I saw a great apple poster somewhere not too long ago and thought I knew our apple from it, but I can't remember where I saw it! I went googling for apple varieties, but none of these (otherwise fairly nifty) sites had enough for me to tell. (Enjoy the links, though!)

Grandpap's Apple Orchard

Vermont Apples

Golden Russets and Cake

Heirloom Apples at Scott Farm

Vaerity list from Big Horse Creek Farm

Apple Varieties: more web sites

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

soft light

Of course, now it's up to 60°F. Heh.

This is good, for me personally. What with one thing and another, I'm afraid I'll worry about "enough wood" all winter, so every warm day comforts. It's slightly hazy now, but the early morning sun slanting up the slope and through the trees, splashing across the mossy stream rocks, was stunning. I think of Fall, like Spring, as two seasons almost: Foliage and Quiet. I love the light in November, slantwise at the turns of the day, whether on ice or warmed over leaf litter.

Blue jays, juncos, chickadees here at home, but last week I saw a Sharp-shinned Hawk at the Birds of Vermont Museum!