Apple Season

Yesterday we went for our annual apple picking foray. There are some outings that are like touchtones in one’s life. This is one for me. My family albums show photos of babies in backpacks reaching for apples, of toddlers climbing ladders, and now, of boys taller than me filling the bag. It was good to go to the orchard with friends, so that once again I have photos of a toddler tightly gripping an apple almost too large for his hands.

Here in New England, it’s been a good year for apples.


Some years I go too early, and some years too late. But yesterday, all of my favorite apples were ripe and available. Macouns for eating, and cortlands and macintoshes for baking and applesauce. My husband likes honeycrisp, so we got a few of those. Even pears and peaches are in season!

It’s a rainy, chilly day today, and so I’ve spent the morning in the kitchen. Already, I’ve made a big pot of applesauce, apple bread pudding, and two apple crisps to freeze. Coring, peeling and slicing apples is easy with this old-fashioned gadget. I’ve just replaced my old and rusted one with this beauty. The blades are so sharp! Apple joy!


PS HenCam was mentioned in the September 28 issue of The New Yorker. Susan Orlean wrote a piece titled, “The It Bird” about the return of backyard chicken keeping. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking to her for an hour and half when she was doing the research. In the article she mentions that goats are the next trendy animal. I am so far ahead of the curve!!

Better Than a Leaf Blower?

The trees are changing colors and leaves are fluttering to the ground. The goats are amazed at their good fortune – a favorite treat, wilted leaves, is appearing miraculously at their hooves. They trot back and forth, watching as the leaves come down and then snarfing them up.

Here is Caper doing a good job of keeping the lawn tidy.

leaf eating

Pip and Caper are much quieter and cuter than a leaf blower. However, leaf blowers don’t do this:

tree eating

Pip likes his salad with green leaves mixed in. Oh well, I suppose it’s back to the lawn guys and their machines.

Going Where a Chicken Has Never Gone Before

One of the fun things about promoting Tillie Lays an Egg is that I get to take my chickens places that poultry are not usually welcome. This past weekend, The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts had it’s first Family Fall Festival. The Country Club (yes, that’s it’s name. It’s exclusive enough to be THE country club) is a bastion of privilege. It is an oasis of manicured lawns and elegant, historic club house, and a master’s level golf course. There’s even a curling rink! Suffice it to say, chickens are not welcome on the greens. However, they invited Tillie and me to come to this event, and we were happy to show up. Tillie (in this case, Coco, the actress who plays Tillie), was, of course, already in her country club finery of a white dress and fancy red comb. I put on some lipstick. Tillie graciously let dozens of children pet her. A few older members reminisced about chickens that they had when growing up. Here is a photo of our tent on the club house lawn. It was a lovely afternoon.


Next, we traveled to the Barnes & Noble in Framingham. Most B&Ns have cafes, and so, for health regulation reasons, I’m not allowed to bring a chicken. But this one’s Starbucks is separate, and so Tillie was invited. There’s nothing like a bringing a hen to a place where animals are totally unexpected. The children sat cross-legged, transfixed by the story and the live chicken. At least a half-dozen B&N employees joined the audience. Who can resist a pretty hen?

Here are Larissa DeAngelis and Muriel Macleod of the children’s department.


In October, Tillie and I drive 100 miles to meet the children in Springfield, Vermont. We can’t wait.

Fall Gardening

I’m in a bit of a mood today. It might have something to do with my agent letting me know about a manuscript that we thought would sell readily, but has been “declined.”  I need a new work-in-progress. I miss the emotional entanglement with my characters and the hashing and re-hashing of words. Somehow, all of my projects are now waiting for approval. I don’t have anything in the just-started phase. I do have an idea that involves goats. So, I’ve been spending time with the boys. Nice excuse, isn’t it?

Luckily, the vegetable garden suits my mood. My tomatoes succumbed to the blight and cold nights. I ripped them out. The bean plants, although still leafy, are producing twisted, discolored beans. The nights are too cold and the plants are too old. I tore the vines off of their support trellises and tossed them in the compost. Very satisfying.


This is not the time of year for planting and nurturing. It’s all about dead-heading and composting, gleaning what’s left, and letting the soil rest for awhile. It’s the perfect metaphor for my life. Okay, that’s a cliche. Not my best writing. But it sure makes for mood-lifting gardening.