Each year now we drive north. Not too far. Half an hour maybe. Pumpkins? Yes, there are those in various sizes.
But in truth, we go for the apples. No, actually for the cider. Ed freezes quite a few gallons for the winter. This year daughters, too, pick up a number of jugs.
The skies turn mostly gray, the air is brisk. The colors are just emerging now -- the apples, sure, all amber and gold. And of course, the nearly spent leaves on the trees in the distance.
Ski Hi orchards. There was one year in the last half dozen when we missed the Fall visit here, even as this year we're so determined to do the cider run that we're on the early side of fall.
Oftentimes, on the return trip, we take the ferry across the Wisconsin River. It's a simple and quiet run. My daughters remind me that we never took the ferry when they were young. I try to think of a reason, but none comes to mind. Routines evolve. This one evolved (for me) only in the last half dozen years.
I watch a family with four sons climb every conceivable rail and shake anything loose that a kid's hand can grab and I think about the different energy levels and exploratory styles of children.
Ed tells me boys at a ferry landing inevitably will be out of the car, searching and probing for clues on the mechanics of the passage (this ferry is towed by a rope). Maybe. It helps if your blood is forever pumping hot stuff through your veins so that you never feel the chill in the air. I'm pulling tightly on my scarf even as I note that Ed is only in a t-shirt and appears not to notice the strength of the wind during the river crossing.
And now we are again on the south side of the river. We meander toward Gibraltar Rock. Ed and I came here five years ago, when we first began our occasional traveling together. Since then, we've come back now and then, always in the Fall, always looking for the twisted curvy trunks and the waves of harvested fields below. The trees are barely golden up here, but even so, it is a splendid view onto a truly Wisconsin landscape down below the wooded hill.
We get lost heading home. That's not unusual. Ed and I don't pay attention to roads and directions. And of course, it's always nicer on the quiet back roads. And the sky... oh, you should have seen those strips of deep blue at the very last hours of daylight!
I remember one autumn of some years back when it rained nearly every day. And once, on October 9th, I recall there was snow. Those are the odd years. Most often, autumn is like today -- brisk, sharp and deeply satisfying. As if it signifies the end of nothing at all. On days like this, one forgets that right before us we have November. And March, too. Remember March? No? Me neither. Not today.