Think of this blog as your virtual Indian summer. Yes, I know, Pennsylvanians, you’re expecting six inches of the white stuff this evening, but let your mind roll back a few weeks to orchards, the apples within, autumnal leaves, and Christmas card photo ops aplenty.

Fall and winter are hiking season for Chris and me. Freed of my ophidiophobia (yeah for hibernation), not to mention Sunday market, we scour the surrounding counties afoot, bundled and tobogganed, a sack full of odd foods that qualify both as light (weight-wise) and filling (tummy-wise), and we intended to begin our season a few weeks ago at the Georgia commencement of the Appalachian Trail near Dahlonega.

But we were distracted. The first of many roadside apple stands offering fried pies, cider doughnuts, bushels of dozens of apple-ly shades, and*sigh*boiled peanuts was cause for a turn about. We bought a gallon of pulpy cider (the good, unfiltered sort with matter suspended at jug bottom), one of the doughnuts, one fried peach pie (who thought that they’d offer peach in autumn at an apple stand?); a half bushel of Pink Ladies; and a sack of their boiled peanuts.

Now, just to be clear: Chris and I adore boiled peanuts. It’s true, for years we resisted. All through grad school as our South Carolinian friend Joel raved of their goodness, we turned up our noses. To be fair, the canned versions lurking in the canned vegetable aisle—and the only kind Chris and I had tasted—are poor representatives, leaning more on their legume heritage than their nutty nature. But good boiled peanuts are a unique experience, as authentically snacky as potato chips but paired with the feel-good warmth of a shot of whisky. And then there’s the shelling: sucking the spicy juice from them, tossing them on the ground or out the window—an inherent dose of relaxation in the whole process, like pinching Royal Reds from their tails at a beach bar.

(the peanut boiler at Reece Apple House where we bought our second bag)


These peanuts were appropriately, but not overly, salty; they retained their textural integrity; and they were lovely, long, finger-like specimens. We enjoyed them in the car heading hike-ward, though, just as we neared the end of the bag, we were again lured from our quest by B.J. Reece Apple House, which offered not only apples, but apple picking. And so with a half-bushel bag in hand, we trudged into B.J.’s orchards for a good dose of vitamin D as well as Yates, Arkansas Blacks, Mutsus, Fujis, and Braeburns.

Let me assure you, the best way to truly taste apples is among the trees, enjoying one variety and then another in stomach-ache inducing succession. Wash these down with more cider. And continue until your bag is ridiculously full, bursting at its seams. If you don’t have apples rolling round your trunk at day’s end, you’re doing it all wrong.

(apple cannon)

We were nearly to the trailhead when we stumbled across these obscenely large pumpkins at Burt’s Farm in Dawsonville. No, you’re not looking at a Dali here; these 50 and 60 pounders appeared to melt from the earth, antagonists to their own circumference and girth, equally beautiful and ridiculous. When we finally made it to the trailhead and climbed the 600 steps to the top of Amicalola Falls, feathered in ruby and gold, I felt much like Burt’s specimens, fully gorged on the pleasures of peanuts, cider, and apples; plumped; and as utterly autumnal as any swath of squash and scarecrow.