Fall’s Last Hurrah

Clouds cover the sky in an opaque shroud of white. Still, here and there, trees and bushes cling to their last, colorful foliage, unwilling to succumb to the inevitable change of season.

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Moonrise

Moonrise

The next day dawns cloudless and blue, but the sunlight that gilds the last, tenacious leaves is as cold as the gold it resembles. It will not do more than brush us with a reminder of warmth until this winter has come and gone.

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The feathers of a cardinal provide camouflage amongst the last reds of autumn, but will soon stand out brighter than holly berries against bare white branches, frosted ground and whiter snow

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The last golden foliage persists, fragile and tenacious, for a little while longer yet

Winter Is Coming

IMG_7748Towards winter…

A deer trail buried in a blanket of fallen leaves leads deeper back into the woods

A deer trail buried in a blanket of fallen leaves leads deeper back into the woods

Fallen trees stripped of their finery raise bony fingers towards a wintry sky

Fallen trees stripped of their finery raise bony fingers towards a wintry sky

Autumn fading

Autumn fading

A bleak treescape

A bleak treescape

Winter is coming

We begin to see the forest’s bare bones. Winter is coming.

 

I hope you enjoy these links to other posts from bloggers around the world who’ve already felt the first winds of winter nipping at their toes. Have a cozy Sunday, everyone, and see you again soon. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Jennifer

Wilder Woods Await

Wilder woods

Wilder woods

For the first few weeks that I had my bicycle, I was content to limit myself to riding the portion of the Rocky Run Trail that runs through the woods behind my house. It’s three miles (that’s about 5 km) there and back, and that is not a short way, especially since it had been years since I’d ridden a bike with any regularity (Roman traffic was a little too scary for me to want to brave the busy streets around my house long enough to reach the cycle paths). However, I recently discovered that the trail continues on the far side of a large road about half a mile from my house – a fact I’d missed since the trailhead has been closed for construction ever since I moved here. So, I loaded my camera with fresh batteries, pumped up my tires and headed out to see what waited for me in the wilder woods on the far side of the big road.

The little stream I'd become accustomed to is no longer narrow enough to clear in one leap over on the far side of the road

The little stream I’d become accustomed to is no longer narrow enough to clear in one leap over on the far side of the road

What I found out was that the path I knew was twice as long as I had thought: nearly eight miles, there and back. The trailheads on the two sides of the big road were both closed, so it took me a while to find an entrance where I could pick it up on the other side. However, there were enough knowledgeable dog-walkers around to point me in the right direction, and I soon found myself in a much larger and less tame wood than the one I’ve gotten to know.

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Beavers at work along the Big Rocky Run

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A crimson cloak

This must be where trees from Tim Burton movies come when they retire

This must be where trees from Tim Burton movies come when they retire

Roots reflected

Detail of roots reflected

From the trail on the near side of the road, you can always see a house or two, somewhere off through the trees. However, in this new forest, there were places where I couldn’t see anything beyond woods and water. I road further on, and soon I found myself entering a place I hadn’t known existed, the Ellanor C. Lawrence Park.

This is the face of a happy explorer who's just made a new discovery (well, new for me, anyway)

This is the face of a happy explorer who’s just made a new discovery (well, new for me, anyway)

The Ellanor C. Lawrence Park's Walney Visitor Center, located inside an 18th-century farmstead

Cabell’s Mill, built circa 1753

I thought the deer I see when I’m out riding were the extent of the local wildlife. However, a sign on the board near the park’s visitor center, located in what was once the house of the miller who operated Cabell’s Mill, told me I shouldn’t be surprised to come across beavers, coyotes, foxes or copperheads (I wouldn’t mind avoiding that last one, but believe me, if I see any of them when the weather warms up again, you will be the first to know).

Here are some of the scenes from my ride back to the main road.

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Dad watches our faithful steeds so I can document the moment when we arrive at destination

Dad watches our faithful steeds so I can document the moment when we arrive at destination

Of course, I had to share my discovery. Besides, I didn’t want Dad to feel left out after having seen the photos from the walk I took with Mom the other day. So, we had a weekend bike ride back to the farm a few days later.

This time, we saw some wildlife too, but of the tamer variety.IMG_7677

Thanks for coming along! That will be the last of the fall foliage bicycle rides, I think. The leaves are mostly brown now. I’ll keep going out – until I’d need snow tires, anyway – but I doubt there will be much to photograph. I hope you’ve enjoyed our excursions through the autumn woods, and that you’ll come back and visit soon to see what other adventures are in store.

Yes, my dad and I are goofballs

Yes, my dad and I are happy explorers – and goofballs

Until then, here’s wishing you some glorious adventures of your own.

My faithful buddy prefers to stay home and explore the backyard

My faithful buddy prefers to stay home and explore the backyard

-Jennifer

A Saturday Morning Walk in the Woods

IMG_0077We’re going to take a little break from the bike today and use our feet instead. On the first Saturday in November, I decided to take my mom – another veteran expat and fearless adventuress – on a walk to see some of the places in the woods that I’d been telling her about for so long. We got up early and slipped out while Dad and our faithful pooch were still sawing logs (dear foreign friends, that is one of the strangest English idioms, I know, but it means they were sleeping very soundly).

We ventured down into the forest, hoping for some perfect leaves for pressing, some fine morning sunlight for pictures, and perhaps even some encounters with the local wildlife. We managed to get all three.

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A garland of oak leaves

The stream is gilded in the early morning light

The stream is gilded in the early morning light

Mom tries out my favorite bench

Mom tries out my favorite bench

When we reach our halfway mark, we stop to rest at one of my favorite spots.

Remember the deer from my first post about the golden woods? I’d been telling Mom about them, and we were lucky enough to encounter them again. This time the doe was standing on the side of the trail, keeping watch while her young ones (too big to be fawns, too small to be full-grown) browsed the bushes down by the stream.

Our friend comes out to visit us again

Our friend comes out to visit us again

She ignores us pointedly, hoping we'll go away, but we're forest tourists, so we stay awhile anyway and snap photos

She ignores us pointedly, hoping we’ll go away, but we’re forest tourists, so we stay awhile anyway and snap photos

When she thinks we're gone, she decides to cross the trail and see what the neighbors have growing in their back yard. Oh deer, you're going to get yourself in trouble this time.

When she thinks we’re gone, she decides to cross the trail and see what the neighbors have growing in their back yard. Oh deer, you’re going to get yourself in trouble this time.

Since we’re well-mannered forest tourists, we’ve got our cell phones switched to silent, but we figure Dad and pooch are probably up and wondering where we are by now, so we decide to head for home. We haven’t even gotten to the front door yet but we can already smell the breakfast cooking.

My dad makes a mean waffle

My dad makes a mean waffle

My dad is a master of all things brunch, and it’s just what we need after a walk in the cold November forest not long past dawn.

There was also bacon. Need I say more?

There was also bacon.
Need I say more?

Thanks for coming along! I wish I could send you along some those waffles and bacon, but I’ll have to settle for wishing you a great brunch, sometime this weekend. See you next time!

– Jennifer

Formerly expat gals are intrepid

Formerly expat gals
are always intrepid

Deeper into the Woods

Ready to keep riding?

My faithful steed waits patiently while I get off to snap photos pick up the brightest, most freshly fallen leaves for pressing

My faithful steed waits patiently while I get off to snap photos pick up the brightest, most freshly fallen leaves for pressing

The deeper I go into the woods, the brighter the leaves become. They are not only gold, but crimson and burgundy, lemon and ochre.

Infinite variety

Infinite variety

In some places they are still green and in others already brown, crunching under my wheels and carpeting the gravel path so thickly that sometimes I’m not sure where the trail for people ends and where the deer path begins.

A carpet of leaves blankets the path ahead

A carpet of leaves blankets the path ahead

Someone has put up a birdhouse. I see bright red cardinals flying around it, blending in with the colors of their surroundings, for once.

Someone has put up a birdhouse. Bright red cardinals fly around it, blending in with the colors of their surroundings at this one time of year .
They wouldn’t stay still for a picture, though.

Trendsetter

Trendsetter

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Trees of all sorts compete for attention on the banks of the stream

First golden...

All dressed in shades of gold and green

Don't forget to look down

Don’t forget to look down

Don't forget to look up

Don’t forget to look up

Thanks for coming along yet again! Keep your bicycles well-oiled and ready to go, because we’re not done just yet. Until the autumn’s over, we’ve still got riding to do.

Until next time…

– Jennifer

 

The Woods Are Lovely, Golden and Deep

IMG_7378The woods are lovely, dark golden and deep.

Those words kept running through my head as I watched the leaves beginning to turn in the woods behind my house. Only last week they were at the peak of their colorful glory, and shortly before that it seemed that they had just begun to lose their green.

Why does this qualify as a post for the Adventures of an Expat Returned? How is this a specifically newly-returned-to-America topic? Well, let’s begin with the fact that, while abroad, I nearly always lived in big cities. This means that I had very little access to nature except on weekend excursions, which were few and far between (that’s what happens when you work weekends). It is therefore relevant to my experience of returning to America, which has meant returning to live in a semi-rural area for the first time since I was a kid.

Umbrella pines on the Palatine Hill

Umbrella pines on the Palatine Hill

Rome’s beauties tend to be of the architectural as opposed to the naturalistic variety. Of course, they do have some lovely public parks in Rome, my favorite of which was the Villa Borghese park (where you can find the famous Pincio Belvedere that is featured in pretty much any movie filmed in the Eternal City).

Your faithful writer sits atop a fallen umbrella pine near the outdoor hippodrome in Villa Borghese park

Your faithful writer sits atop a fallen umbrella pine near the outdoor hippodrome in Villa Borghese park

The umbrella pine is one of the symbols of Rome. It’s everywhere (although, having been brought over from North Africa during the time of the Ancient Roman Empire, it’s not truly native), it’s beautiful and it’s a conifer.

The steep, cypress-lined road that climbs to the Church of Santa Margherita above the famous little hill town of Cortona

The steep, cypress-lined road that climbs to the Church of Santa Margherita above the famous little hill town of Cortona

If you think about it, Italy is famous for its conifers. Just think of Tuscany and what comes to mind? An avenue leading to a villa in the hills above Florence, perhaps, and it is lined with… cypresses, another gorgeous tree and, again, not deciduous.

Cypresses rise from behind every garden wall in here in the hills above Florence

Cypresses rise from behind every garden wall in here in the hills above Florence

Olive groves and cypresses are an integral part of the Tuscan hills' distinctive beauty - and neither tree changes its colors in autumn

Olive groves and cypresses are an integral part of the Tuscan hills’ distinctive beauty – and neither tree changes its colors in autumn

Despite having had access to places world-renowned for their beauty for many years, it had been a very long time since I’d seen the brilliant reds and yellows of a North American fall, the bright fiery shades of autumn I remember from my childhood.

And this is just my back yard. Imagine what it's like down in the woods...

And this is just my back yard. Imagine what it’s like down in the woods…

Lucky for me, I have my faithful steed...

Lucky for me, I have my faithful steed…

...and a long and winding, well-kept trail...

…and a long and winding, well-kept trail…

...and woods wild and golden enough to satisfy your average hobbit's sense of adventure

…and woods wild and golden enough to satisfy your average hobbit’s sense of adventure

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Further on, the golds begin to give way to a little more red

Further on, the golds begin to give way to a little more red

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See the deer behind me? That’s how close (and tame) they were

I get off my bike to take a picture of those red leaves, and what should I see, not so very far off the trail?

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Can you see mother doe in the background?

Can you see Mom in the background?

This is about as wild as it gets in the woods behind my house, but for someone who’s spent most of their life in the city, it qualifies as an adventure. And a little further along the trail…

And the path continues...

A nice place to pause for awhile before our adventure continues

Thanks for coming along. Come back and visit soon for more rides through the autumn woods, as long as the leaves last.

– Jennifer

And by the way, a big thank you to all of you who have followed and liked my blog lately. It’s great to have you here, and I hope you’ll keep on visiting!

Trick or Treating Is Not Like in the Movies, and I Mean That in the Very Best Way

IMG_7306As I mentioned in my Happy Halloween post, the holidays you miss most when living overseas are the ones that don’t even exist in the place where you’re living. Italians, after sufficient exposure to American scary movies, have recently adopted Halloween, but there is no door-to-door trick or treating and children certainly don’t put on costumes. If anything, adults use it as an excuse for a rather silly night out and nightclub owners use it as a way to get more people in the door for a theme night.

I was therefore really looking forward to seeing what the kids in my neighborhood (or their parents, in the case of the youngest ones) would put together.

Your faithful writer at age 3. I thank  J. M. Barrie for the idea and my wonderful mom for making such a brilliant costume with hardly any advance notice (three-year-olds are notoriously fickle) and on shoestring budget.

Your faithful writer at age 3. I thank J. M. Barrie for the idea and my wonderful mom for making such a brilliant costume with hardly any advance notice (three-year-olds are notoriously fickle) and on a shoestring budget.

I, for example, on the first Halloween when I was old enough to choose my costume, opted to be the crocodile that ate Captain Hook’s hand. Go figure. My mom did a brilliant job of putting that costume together from scratch. She always did.
This year my pseudo-pirate costume got a few compliments from the kids, but they were mostly interested in the candy basket. (I know, I know. From crocodile to pirate. Analyze that.)

Jack-o'lantern, check. Candy basket, check. Now all we need are the trick-or-treaters.

Jack-o’lantern, check. Candy basket, check. Now all we need are the trick-or-treaters.

So, I may have had a sword and everything, but the peanut butter M&Ms were the big hit of the night, along with the little bags of candy corn my mom had made up after dinner the night before. She knew the kids would start arriving as soon as darkness fell (cue spooky music) and so she left me in charge of getting the Halloween meet and greet rolling.

Here are some of my favorite moments of the evening…

Darth Vader was one of the very first to ring my bell, before dusk had even properly fallen. He knows that the early Sith Lord gets  first pick of the Halloween spoils. Actually, this kid was out with his friends and their parents collecting donations of canned food for a local charity. Well, we all knew he came back from the Dark Side in the end.

Darth Vader was one of the very first to ring my bell, before dusk had even properly fallen. He knows that the early Sith Lord gets first pick of the Halloween spoils. Actually, this kid was out with his friends and their parents collecting donations of canned food for a local charity. Well, we all know he came back from the Dark Side in the end.

When asked, the introduced themselves as, "the Three Musketeers and a homeless guy"... or wait, could it be that d'Artagnan has fallen on harder times than we knew? I hope the chocolate helped.

When asked, they introduced themselves as, “the Three Musketeers and a homeless guy”… or wait, could it be that d’Artagnan has fallen on harder times than we knew? I hope the chocolate helped.

This little blue monster was more interested in the jack-o'-lantern than the candy. This little blue monster was more interested in the jack-o’-lantern than the candy.

A motley assortment of heroes, superheroes and anti-heroes.

A motley assortment of heroes, superheroes and anti-heroes.

My favorite of the evening. It doesn't get much more American than bacon and eggs. These brothers get kudos for originality.

My favorite of the evening. It doesn’t get much more American than bacon and eggs. These brothers get kudos for originality.

Uh-oh, running low.

Uh-oh, running low. Good thing Darth and company are heading home for dinner soon.

I think she was probably texting...

I think she was probably texting…

"Is anybody watching or should I make a play for the chocolate?"

“Is anybody watching or should I make a play for the chocolate?”

All in all, the trick-or-treating experience definitely lived up to my expat returned expectations, and better still, there were no tricks, only treats. I guess I may have seen too many of those scary American movies myself.

Pirate me, sword and all.

Pirate me, sword and all.

Until next time, ciao and thanks for reading!

Jennifer

On my first September 11th back in America…

NEVER FORGET

E. 6th St. and 3rd Ave., East Village, Manhattan, New York, 2002

On this, my first September 11th back in America, the post I am writing is a departure from this blog’s usual content, but today is a day unlike others. What happened on this day twelve years ago changed the face of our nation. Over a decade later, we live in a world different in attitude and spirit than the world before 9/11 – less innocent, less ingenuous. However, the inevitable consequence of loss is the strong and poignant realization of the value of the things we have. The dreams that this, our nation, embodies are precious beyond belief, and despite everything we still stand as a symbol of hope for people in countries where oppression is a way of life and freedom of thought, let alone freedom of speech, is almost unimaginable.

We lost much on 9/11, and I will never forget. At the time, I was living in New York’s East Village, one block from where the above photograph was taken. From that street corner there was a clear view of the World Trade Center towers. I will never forget the horror of that morning, but neither will I ever forget the aftermath. In the days that followed, my neighborhood became a community. I spent my days talking to total strangers as though they were friends. The sense of common grief quickly transformed into a feeling of common determination, a conviction that not even a tragedy so great could bring down our marvelous city. On television and in the newspapers, I watched that feeling of camaraderie spread like ripples from every place that horrific day had affected, every family touched by the unthinkable.

In 2004, after having lived six years in New York, I moved back overseas, to Europe, where I had spent most of my childhood and adolescence. Nine years later I have come back to find a country divided as I have never seen it before. I wonder what happened to the sentiment that filled us all on that terrible morning – that sense that we are all Americans, that we can rise above  ideological differences that cannot draw as black and white a division as the proponents of either side seems to think. Our common values are stronger than that. We are better than that.

It is a sad truth of the human condition that it often takes a tragedy on such a scale to bring us together, to remind us that we all share a common bond. A year after 9/11, the mural you can see above went up on the wall on that street corner near my house, where I had stood when it began. In all these years, I have held the image of that mural in my memory, a beautiful tribute to the victims of that day, the bright flowers and twinkling stars as sweet as the innocence we lost, reminding us of what is precious, of what is still ours.

Never forget.

Close Encounter

You can imagine our surprise when this doe...

You can imagine our surprise when this doe…

...grazing by the side of the  road, didn't run away as we came closer...
…grazing by the side of the road, didn’t run away as we came closer…

On the side of the road, just outside of Shenandoah National Park

…and finally let us come right up alongside her, stop the car, and take this picture from just an arm’s length away.
(On the side of the road, just outside of Shenandoah National Park)

As American as Apple Pie, Indeed

On the left: a bounty of apples, on sale at the Apple Castle. On the right: Mom's apple pie, made with Apple Castle's Cameo variety

On the left: a bounty of apples, on sale at the Apple Castle, in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. On the right: Mom’s apple pie, made with Apple Castle’s Cameo variety

As American as apple pie, right? That’s how the saying goes. Well, while visiting my grandmother in a very rural part of Pennsylvania last weekend (we’re talking Amish country), my mom and I decided to stop at a store called the Apple Castle, which we have been visiting since I should have been too small to remember it… but I think that wonderful blend of smells that seems unique to it – of cinnamon, cider, honey, maple and butterscotch, doughnuts and beeswax – must have made an impression on me even when I was too young to be aware of very much else, and since then, all my life, and especially when I was growing up in Europe as a kid, those smells have always been associated with those very special annual visits to grandparents’ houses, with magical trips to a land of horse-drawn buggies, red barns, green cornfields and backyards big enough to run in, full of fireflies at dusk. And nowhere but outside of little New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, have I ever found its like.

On the right: Driving through the countryside, we had seen transparent apples advertised on more than one farm driveway. The lady at the Castle told us they are an apple that is ideal for recipes where you would want the cooked apple to be "saucy," as opposed to holding its shape, as you'd want it to do for a project like pie. On the left: And we came away with all of those delicious things, with the exception of the cider.

On the right: Driving through the countryside, we had seen transparent apples advertised on more than one farm driveway. The lady at the Castle told us they are an apple that is ideal for recipes where you would want the cooked apple to be “saucy,” as opposed to holding its shape, as you’d want it to do for a project like pie. On the left: And we came away with all of those delicious things, with the exception of the cider.

It is corn season, and there are few things as American as corn-on-the-cob boiled and served with salt and butter. This is what the "sugar and butter" variety of sweetcorn we bought at the Apple Castle looked like once we got it served up for dinner. Tender and sweet, it more than lived up to its name.

It is corn season, and there are few things as American as corn-on-the-cob, boiled and served with salt and butter. This is what the “sugar and butter” variety of sweetcorn we bought at the Apple Castle looked like once we got it served up for dinner. Tender and sweet, it more than lived up to its name.

I wear my serious investigative-journalist face as I sample a maple doughnut. Other varieties, made fresh daily, included cinnamon, cider, honey-wheat, and, of course, the classics like chocolate glazed and vanilla. We sampled some in-store, then took some more samples home for further study.

I wear my serious investigative-journalist face as I sample a maple doughnut. Other varieties, made fresh daily, included cinnamon, cider, honey-wheat, and, of course, the classics like chocolate-glazed and vanilla. We sampled some in-store, then took some more samples home for further study.

Honeybears! Watch out for local wildlife

Honeybears! Watch out for local wildlife

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Snow White wouldn’t have stood a chance in here.

Original Apple Castle shopping bag

Original Apple Castle shopping bag, on display in the store

While visiting my grandmother, Dorothy, I had the good fortune to meet Ralph Johnston, original owner of the Apple Castle. He was pleased to spend some time with me, telling me some interesting and little-known facts about his store. It’s been 60 years, more or less, since he founded the store, which is still family-owned (their orchards have been there much longer – 150 years in 2011, to be exact), but his eyes are bright and his expression lively. He is still a tall man, but he must have towered as high as some of his fruit trees in his youth, and his big hands look like they could each hold four apples at once and never risk dropping a single one. Today, the orchards he once tended, across the road from the shop he built, produce not only apples in countless varieties, but peaches, and nectarines too, and many other fruits as well. It seems there’s always something in season, freshly harvested, overflowing the display tables at the Apple Castle. And now for a few of those little-known facts, courtesy of Ralph Johnston. IMG_6498 The natural stone facing on the front of the store was quarried from Mr. Johnston’s wife’s family farm, in nearby Beavertown, Pennsylvania. applecastleshelving Here you can see the shelves, which hold all manner of marvelous jars I could browse through for hours – wonderful jams (some of my personal favorites are the elderberry, the strawberry-rhubarb and the just-plain rhubarb and the “bluegoose” – a mixture of blueberry and gooseberry preserves), homemade apple butter, dark brown with cinnamon and spice, as well as jars of all manner of preserves, from jalapeño-pickled hard-boiled eggs to beets almost too bright a fuchsia to be believed, knowing that everything in those jars is natural. Behind the jars you can see the lovely, golden-brown wood paneling that covers the entire interior of the store. That paneling is made from walnut, cut in Mr. Johnston and his wife’s own woods. Now, take a closer look at the uprights that support the shelves themselves, and you’ll see that they are actually ladders used for fruit-harvesting, which have been cut in half to fit between floor and ceiling. And, of course, you can’t help but notice all those blue-ribbon prizes the Apple Castle has won over the years, strung across the top of the shelving and running nearly from wall to wall.

After he had finished telling me all these things, Mr. Johnston asked if I was interested in antiques, to be so curious about all these architectural details of his shop.

“No,” I replied, shaking his hand and thanking him for his time, “not antiques. It’s history that I love.”

It was a long drive home from Pennsylvania to Virginia, a good nine hours through the Allegheny mountains, on a road that took us from through West Virginia and Maryland before it got us back to Old Dominion (for my foreign readers, that’s Virginia’s nickname). The fact that we had all those wonderful bags full of Apple Castle goodness in the back seat made it seem even longer!

The very next day, my mom got down to the very serious business of making one of her famously delicious apple pies.

On the top left, my mom's pie waits to go into the oven, on the top right, it's freshly taken out. In the middle, the excess pie crust is rolled up and filled with cinnamon sugar, to be had as a treat with a cup of tea while waiting for the main project to bake. On the bottom right, our dog Georgie has fallen asleep next to his bowl, worn out from all the waiting and hoping that he'll get some, too. And, of course, the biggest picture is the finished product, served with some vanilla ice-cream on the side, a few hours later.

On the top left, my mom’s pie waits to go into the oven, on the top right, it’s freshly taken out. In the middle, the excess pie crust is rolled up and filled with cinnamon sugar, to be had as a treat with a cup of tea while waiting for the main project to bake. On the bottom right, our dog Georgie has fallen asleep next to his bowl, worn out from all the waiting and hoping that he’ll get some, too. And, of course, the biggest picture is the finished product, served with some vanilla ice-cream on the side, a few hours later.

So, getting back to the title of this post, why do we always say that something is, “As American as apple pie?”

Well, the point is that a dessert quite like this one doesn’t exist anywhere else. The Germans are famous for their pastries and cakes, and I’ll doff my hat to a lovely German apfelkuchen any day, but it looks and tastes quite different from an American apple pie. Indeed, while living in Germany, my mother and father once invited a German couple who were friends of theirs over for tea. Upon entering the dining room and seeing the pie my mother had made sitting on the table, the German husband began laughing.

“What’s so funny?” my mother asked, a little taken aback, as you can imagine.

“Why, it’s just like the one that Minnie Mouse always made for Mickey!” he exclaimed. Yes, that was the only place he had ever seen such a thing.

I had the same experience years later, in Milan, when I served up the pie I had made to finish off a full American Thanksgiving dinner I had made for a small group of Italian friends.

“But…” said one, pointing incredulously at the dish I was carrying to the table, “that’s just like the ones that always get stolen off of the windowsill in cartoons!”

Well, I can tell you all, my mom’s apple pie is definitely good enough to tempt the most honest squirrels into a little kitchen-windowsill burglary. And those Cameo apples from the Apple Castle made it one of the most special we’ve ever had.

Until next time… here’s wishing you all some wonderful adventures of your own.

– Jennifer

p.s. For those of you who’d like to know more about the Apple Castle or think that you might get out to visit, here’s the link to their website, in case you didn’t catch it at the top:

http://www.applecastle.com