25 September, 2010

Cider pressing

A couple of weeks ago we hauled a borrowed cider press up to the cabin two friends rent, deep in the woods of Greenbush. As dusk fell, people arrived with guitars and a sedan backseat-full of apples: it was the first informal gathering of the semester for UMaine's sustainable agriculture students and others interested in back-to-the-land lifestyles. The evening unfolded with music by the fire and plenty of home-brewed beer - including an exquisite herbal beer made with fennel, yarrow, white clover, and ground-ivy, thanks to Josh Melanson. 

Though we were missing part of the press, we managed to improvise with an adjustable wrench and produce around twelve gallons of cider. It circulated in a communal mason jar; we took turns cranking the press and hauling apples to the compost heap out back by the outhouse. Then the rain began, driving all but a hardy few home.

Inside the cozy cabin we settled in for the night - Josh reviewing notes for Weed Identification while Tracy, Bhuki, and i sat beneath a wool throw. Bhuki read aloud from "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", and with his voice, the smells of old, burnished wood and apple-splattered clothes i drifted away.

Funny, it's only as an alum i find myself waking hung over at a wedding reception in a cabin full of honors students, or curling up underneath a big Maine "M" on a throw blanket, or eating pineapple straight from the can because there's little else in the apartment - bits of the college experience it took a little over four years to get around to. Bits i wouldn't miss for the world.