Grass No. 24 - Making Cider

Grass
Grass No. 24 - Making Cider
By Hudson Gardner • Issue #24 • View online

Making Cider
The grinder where apples are loaded
for cidering is called a hopper

On one side a large crank and flywheel
Turns a metal toothed bar that grinds and flips the apples down
to a waiting bucket
People had gathered at the top of the hill
On the north shore to make cider
Amidst birches and nearby an old farm house
The birches on the hilltop swayed in wind gusts
As I sat with my back to the barn
And kids ran around, towheaded Fred picking up chickens and showing them to everyone
And me alone like sometimes I feel I need to be
Silently watching everyone else and noticing it all
But the reason I sat today was to be out of the wind, and the sun that came from time to time
Through the quick dark clouds
Warmed the barn door behind me
I fed apples ripping them with my hands to stray chickens wandering by
A sign along the road was painted EGGS
And all the others were gathered around the cider press
Hemming and hawing, finding the best way to stay warm
Which might be at the fly wheel
Or schlepping the heavy buckets of mashed apples after they were through being squoze
Or maybe it was using the long pole to crank the press down,
But this is Maine, and people are warmer here
Than is normal
I took a turn at the wheel, found it to be well heating, and took a few more
The sweet cider running out in a froth into big metal bowls
Then poured into glass containers with a metal funnel
Each person helping out, hand by hand
I had read something: that cider presses used to be owned by the community
No one person had a monopoly
That historically people would bring their apples in to press them
And everyone would get a turn and a share
I filled up my glass bottle and a few more
Drank the sweet tangy effervescent juice fresh from the press
Watched Anna’s cheeks flush after so much cider and candycorn and cranking
I guess what we were doing on that bare birch hilltop
Next to the hundred year apple tree
Was making history
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Hudson Gardner

Writing & Photos covering place, ecology, and existence.

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