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Essex Column

The Grange Harvest Festival is this Sunday, Sept. 8, with food, music, fire truck fountains, games and cider making. It all kicks off at 1 p.m. There is plenty of free parking, although you should avoid the shoulders on Route 22, where tall grass conceals deep ditches. I suffered acute embarrassment when my car dropped into a well disguised roadside chasm in front of a large crowd of gawkers and amused onlookers. Seldom do I get through a visit to the transfer station without being reminded of this minor faux pas.

This is the time of year to mow old hay fields and other open areas, to keep trees and brush from moving in. One of the pleasures of mowing is eating wild apples, picked from the tractor seat. Some are almost bitter and others as sweet as nectar, while one tree’s apples taste strongly of banana. Except for crab apples, apples are not native to North America but were widely planted in colonial times to produce cider. Johnny Appleseed’s trees were meant for cider production, not for a shiny red fruit on the teacher’s desk. Cider’s popularity here plunged in the 1840’s with the rise of cities and immigrants from beer drinking countries, but seems to be making a comeback. With its long history of apple growing, the Champlain Valley could be poised to become a new center of cider making.

It’s back to school time, and the Whallonsburg Grange is offering a comprehensive look at the Civil War, in a series of lectures called “150 Years after the Civil War: Why it Still Matters.” Local authors Andy Buchanan, Sharp Swan and Colin Wells will put the war into an international context, as well as discuss the local impact and the meaning of the literature of the era. The first talk will be Tuesday, Sept. 24. When visiting my mother at her home in Alabama, I’m commonly referred to as a “yankee” which is not meant in a friendly way. It’s a bit unsettling to find the Civil War reverberating in some minds six or seven generations after the fact.

For all you movie buffs, take heart, the long summer is over, the film society’s members are tanned and rested and they have an excellent line up of films starting with “Brooklyn Castle” Sept. 14.

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