We’re now in the depths of Fall. Most leaves have changed color and many have left trees for ground, exposing naked branches. The sky is covered with the diffused, whitish, monochromic cloud blanket that we’ll see ‘til March. Even Halloween, in all its frozen, windswept glory is already passed.
So what do we do now? Hunker-down indoors, draped in snuggies, with the constant companionship of a hot beverage, building your body’s natural insulation? Sure, that’s not a bad thing to do, but save that for a few months from now. Better you take advantage of the relative warmth to ride your bike and enjoy the sights, smells, and bizarre cultural rituals (turkey/pumpkin fetishism, etc.)
A week-and-a-half ago, my girlfriend and I, just returning from Spain and Portugal, decided that it was time for the Curtis Orchard pilgrimage. If you don’t know Curtis Orchard, it’s a local orchard that provides excellent apples, pumpkins, cider, honey, and doughnuts – among other products. They’re open from 20 July to 20 December, from 9AM-6PM Monday-Saturday and 11AM-6PM Sunday.
This year the weather was quite mild – ideal for biking. At this point, the leaves were at their brightest, with yellow and red to be seen in all directions. So we took our time, meandered westward and southward and eventually ended up at Curtis Orchard.
While there are great bike paths on the major roads heading towards Curtis Orchard, I think it would be a pity to spend the whole time on flat, straight, loud roads. Though it might take a little bit longer, I suggest you wind your way down and over to Curtis Orchard through Champaign-Urbana. Check out a few neighborhoods you’ve never seen before and relish the fall weather.
Curtis Orchard is a frightening/delightful mixture of awesome local farm and surreal good-old-‘Merica romanticism. It blends great, fresh produce with so-wholesome-it’s-creepy Americana. Take, for example the grotesque moving, talking, 1980’s animatronic farmer:
Enough of that. It’s still worth going. Just go.
Here are my suggestions for what to do there:
- Buy some apples. They really do have great apples, in many different cultivars that are each available for only a portion of apple season. Highlights include Winesap and Arkansas Blacks.
- Get the cider. Their cider will make supermarket-bought cider taste like merely apple juice. Drink it cold. Drink it mulled with cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg. Drink it fermented. This year I think it’s around $6 a gallon.
- Get a pumpkin. Not all pumpkins are meant to be carved, putrify, and be eaten by squirrels. Some are actually meant to make pies. Give it a shot.
- Get an apple doughnut. Or if you’re like me, an apple fritter. (Can’t stand cake doughnuts.) Get some sort of appley, doughy fried product.
Check back on Friday to read more suggestions for keeping yourself occupied this Fall!