There’s something about fall that feels like the start of the year. Maybe it’s a holdover from my childhood, when school would start in September. I looked forward to new notebooks with fresh white pages and new pencils. New clothes, too.
That feeling continues in adulthood. The lazy days of summer are over and there’s a chill in the morning air, even here in Northern California where we get warm, sunny weather in September and October, before the onset of the winter rains. Though we already had one big rainstorm in mid-September, unusual for the time of year.
Yesterday was my annual Antiques and Apples run to Sebastopol and Graton, two towns in western Sonoma County. It has become a ritual over the past few years and signals the start of autumn for me.
In one of the Jeri Howard novels, I have Jeri refer to fall as apple-and-orange season, the time of year she can no longer get strawberries at the farmers market. Instead the fruit of choice is apples, crisp and sweet. I like to eat them out of hand and I love to bake them, sprinkled with a handful of raisins and walnuts, and lots of cinnamon.
The Antiques and Apples run, as the name implies, starts on the Gravenstein Highway, a portion of California state route 116 south of the town of Sebastopol. It’s lined with antique stores, although some of them look more like Ye Olde Junque Shop.
A favorite stop is the Antique Society, a large barn-like places where lots of vendors have stalls. It also has a little bakery in front where one may get sustenance in the form of coffee, tea, cupcakes, and freshly baked cookies. I must say, the oatmeal cookie just out of the oven went down well with that cup of java.
I didn’t buy any furniture this trip. A couple of years ago I came home with a small china cabinet. This year I restricted myself to a small glass refrigerator dish.
After lunch my friends and I headed for the apple farm. Grocery store apples? No, thanks. I like to go to Walker’s Apple Farm, which is west of the small town of Graton, at the end of a dirt that climbs steadily as it winds through orchards. The farm grows about 25 varieties of apples and what I buy depends on when I go on the Apples and Antiques run. This year I got Northern Spies, a favorite, a round fat apple that’s mostly green with some red streaks. There were also Rhode Island Greenings, tart and good for baking. There were Jonathans and Baldwins as well.
Now I have a refrigerator full of apples, the prospect of baked apples in the very near future, and I’m definitely feeling fallish.