Come October, when the air is crisp and cool, and the leaves begin to take on new colors, I start to think about heading up to Apple Hill. This time Lily and Charlotte and I went with our friends for a little girls outing. I am a creature of habit, usually hitting the same two or three places each and every year.
Always, always, we go to Rainbow Orchards for apple donuts, sometimes making the trip up just for a donut and driving home. I know that there are other places to get donuts in Apple Hill, but as far as I am concerned there is just one.
Another very favorite stop is the Larsen Apple Barn. I have to be honest and say that I don't think that I have ever eaten anything apple related there. I have a hazy childhood memory of having lunch, but usually we go to Larsen's to visit their family museum in the barn. To say that I love this place would be an understatement. They ask for a $1 donation to walk through. I can honestly say that I have been known to stand at the entrance longingly after buying one apple donut too many, thus not having enough money to drop into the bright red donation bin to go in to see the jumble of, well, attic and barn junk.
If you know me, you shouldn't be remotely surprised by my sacred love of other people's attic and barn junk. They have dozens of pairs of eye glasses from one Larsen's eyeglasses shop, curlers that belonged to a Mrs. Larsen of the 30s, old carriages and wagons and pick up trucks, several staged rooms from a farmhouse, the original cabin that the first Larsen's lived in (!), newspaper clippings and daguerreotypes going three or four or five generations back. In other words, Claire's Vintage Junk Heaven, made even more heavenly by the fact that none of it is for sale, so I don't feel the need to bring it all home (like at Claire's Antique/Thrift Store Heaven).
Usually when we visit, it's a weekday and we are the only ones in there. This last trip it was a Saturday and we were packed in with everyone else from Sacramento Valley. The trade off, though, is that on weekends some member of the family keeps vigil over their treasures as the masses look on. As we walked in, Mr. Larsen filled us in on who exactly was in all those family daguerreotypes and photos with pride. We oohed and ahhed and I kind of felt like I was meeting a celebrity. I mean, I had walked through his family's heirlooms for years. I asked him if he grew up on the property (he had), and then asked him if it was a little strange seeing all these people traipse through his home and stuff. He kind of chuckled and shrugged, not being a man of many words.
He told my kids that the crib in one of the staged room was his until he was five, "and my little brother kicked me out" and proudly said that his father had made all the wooden furniture in the room. The girls' eyes got wide and they ran back over to get a closer look. I snapped a few photos of Mr. Larsen before following the pack of girls on to the next adventure and those, oh, so important, apple donuts.