Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Grey Green Blue: Mason Lake Campout

Every summer my family goes camping at Mason Lake. The company where my dad worked for about 40 years before he retired has a private campground there for employees, retirees, and their guests. It's a really wonderful campground too—I feel blessed to have grown up summers there surrounded by extended family and friends. 

This year, it was cool and damp and grey, despite my hot sunny drive over to the lake. It was too cold for water sports or swimming so they fished and I drew. 

The lake schedule is like this: we always go in August, usually for more than a week (in recent years since we've had jobs, my sister and I go up to join our parents and whoever else on weekends) (actually this year I don't yet have a job, but I had to cat-sit my parents little Azure, the siamese princess.) We go for the fourth of July when we can, and go out in the boat to watch fireworks over the lake. This year we'll try to go again in September. It was kind of an off-feeling year. As September approaches, I'm feeling more and more angst over getting a day job. No flitting back off to school this year! All my uncertainty of what I'll do and where I'll live is really starting to build up. I don't know what is going to happen. But, as my sister pointed out when I was venting about this last night, maybe I can see this as exciting, because anything can happen. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Oh, Applesauce!

I can't even eat commercially made applesauce. It's made from the blandest variety of apple and then artificially sweetened, and the texture consists of water with silty little apple granules floating in it. Homemade applesauce, on the other hand, is pure and beautiful: tart, and delicious, the essence of apple-ness in goo form. My parents were on vacation last week, so, in between waiting on their cat, with the yellow transparent apples at their peak in the front yard and the kitchen to myself, I cranked up the jazz on NPR and had a zen afternoon making applesauce. 

The conical sieve apparatus is used to separate our the peel from the cooked apple pulp. It has been used and passed down through four generations of women in my family. 

I harvested the apples from one of the (too) many fruit trees my mom had my dad plant when they bought their house about 30 years ago. Growing up, she had an apple tree in the yard and loved the idea that you could be playing outside and have a snack that was a gift from nature. I'm definitely grateful for these fruit trees, the joy of nature snacks and the happy hours making and eating dried fruit, pies, crisps, sauces, apple cakes, and my paternal grandmother's wonderful Croatian apple strudel, pogatica. I'm also all too familiar with the smell of rotting, fermenting apples, because having too many free apples results in waste, and when dad wanted to mow the lawn, it was my sister's and my hated chore to clear it of the windfall, sorting the apples into a good bag to bring to the kitchen and a bad bag to dump in the trash. 

Since our apples are grown organically (we don't really tend the trees at all, just receive of their bounty) some apples host bugs. It's not that bad of a problem, it just is. We don't bite into our apples whole, we always chop them up to see what's inside. In the few dozen apples I picked for this batch of applesauce, only one apple had maggots. So that's pretty good statistics. A little poem about apple maggots occurred to me as I discovered, executed, and discarded this little fellow. 

Oh, to be an apple maggot, 
to make my home 
and dwell in the juicy world 
inside an apple.