Things have been on the quiet side around the campground since Fiber College. The leaf peepers haven’t started to make their way up the coast and the banking news/unrelenting gas prices haven’t encouraged many folks to jump in the RV’s or pack a tent and take a vacation…but life is still very good here on Penobscot Bay.
This was the weekend for the Common Ground Fair and apple picking…an unbeatable Maine combination!
The gates to the fair were open at 9 AM on Friday and Emma and I were there. We headed straight to the
fleece tent because my first goal was to find the perfect gray wool fleece to wash and dye for a sturdy, blue sweater…I want to mix in Neeshee’s mohair curls so that Steven has the first sweater Neeshee ever contributed to.
It didn’t take us long to find this gorgeous bag of Romney wool that Joe Miller raised in Western Maine. The lustrous locks vary in color between white, buttered toast and warm gray. This natural color variation will add depth to my icy blue overdye and the 4 inch staple length will make spinning a breeze. Because Romneys are big sheep, there is easily 10 pounds in this bag so I’ll have plenty of wool left over for mittens and a hat too. I can’t wait to get started!
Once we quenched the wool fever for me, we started combing through the Maine Fiber Products Tent for Emma. She prefers her wool washed, dyed and ready to go so we visited all of the vendors in search of the perfect color and texture for the base of a raglan sweater. It wasn’t long before we had some beautiful roving in tones of peach and rhubarb with flashes of green in a nice, springy wool…she’ll be busy with her Navajo spindle this winter.
The weather has been perfect for the past week…think video days with bright blue skies and green leaves just tinged with reds and oranges. I was afraid this would bring too many people out to the fair but no…we had plenty of room to move around, see the crafts, and listen to talks on herbal remedies and choosing the right breed of sheep for your farm.
The rest of the weekend was devoted to general campground life and keeping the gardens in order. We never did get that hard frost the other day so we put away all of the old sheets and blankets we used to protect the plants and trimmed back the tomato leaves so that they’d get more of the sun’s rays. Steve ripped out the nasturtiums from the raised bed and I pulled the remaining green bean plants…they were getting too tough to eat. All this activity thrills Queen Lollie and Sir Neeshee (the resident Angora goats) because they LOVE garden waste.
My favorite apple tree
The apples are ripe now and we have a marvelous tree in the middle of the playground. It’s an old fashioned, late fall apple with a very fine texture and bright flavor. It holds its shape wonderfully in a pie and when you cook it into applesauce, the whole house smells of heaven. I don’t have any idea if the tree is a particular variety (before 40 acres of land was turned into a campground in the 60’s it was part of a coastal farm since the 1700’s) but the tree produces a wonderful crop every other year. On the odd years there are a few apples for eating but on the productive years there are far more than we can use. Because we don’t spray or treat them in any way, they aren’t as pretty to look at but one bite reminds you of what an apple is supposed to taste like. Maybe it’s because this is a very old variety or maybe it’s because we use herbicides and pesticides only in the most dire
situations, but this fruit only suffers from skin conditions…only a rare worm that finds a home in these wonderful apples…and I’m sure we could enhance the aesthetics if we took the time to properly groom and care for the tree itself…but as you’ve noticed if you walk the grounds, we’re so busy in the Spring and Summer that the gardening philosophy is every plant for itself after a few shovel fulls of seaweed and composted manure around the drip line…survival of the fittest in action!
So now that they’re picked, what to do with the bounty? Well last night I made four batches of chunky applesauce. Three went into the freezer and one will be the topping of tonight’s gingerbread. I’m thinking this will be a great year to make apple leather… the oven at the beach is still hooked up because we’re doing a big private lobsterbake in October so I can use the pilot light to dry the puree. I’m planning on making it before Wednesday so if it works, I’ll upload some pictures and the recipe (it comes from an Armenian cookbook my mother always used). If I’m successful, I think I’ll make some tomato leather too…we’ll have a basket of those before the week’s out.