After dinner, we wade the grasses, the milkweed, the thistles. Small hands grab at low hanging branches, greedy for the knarled fruit, dropped into backpacks by brothers and sisters, before moving upward and onward to the next ancient tree.
Later we stand huddled in the dimness of the fading day. The grinder churns out spray of apple and when the steel pan is stacked high it is hand scooped into cotton and slid under the press. Turns at the red crank are envied. Two kids to turn the crank, two to drop apples into the grinder with papa. Liquid gold, tart and chill with the evening air, pours forth. Five pairs of small hands dart in with cups and mugs, covert sips snuck in between carrying and pouring and funneling and entertaining baby in her stroller.
Bottles and jars and jugs from the pantry, saved through the summer are filled. When all sticky fingers are washed, and cozy pajamas put on, six pretty gallons line the counter. On some, caps are loosened and left to harden on the pantry shelf for apple cider vinegar.
It is dark and we are tired when Sean recalls the forcast for rain. Potatoes line the tables outside under sheets, drying for storage and need to be put in bins and brought in before the rain. We grab for them in the dark and roll them into our hands, into the bins, and heave and ho, stack the heavy bins into the pantry, uncovered during the night, covered during the day. The ones pierced by the pitchfork or not quite so perfect for storing are kept aside, to eat soon. In the dark as our hands chase rolling potoatoes, I laugh at the thought of the life we live. Crazy seed to pulled from earth to filling bellies at the table all winter sort of life. Backs aching, arms strong.
Finally, yes finally, work done, he whom I love pours me a cobalt glass of cider and we settle in with some BBC for the evening, house quiet, kiddos asleep, Bear the dog at her sentry post at the front door.