One of my favourite places at this time of year is a lane at the end of the village that is lined with old fruit trees.
Their gnarly branches and lichen-covered twigs lend a touch of enchantment. Tiny pears drop like magic fruits from leafless branches; rosy red apples hang from heavily laden boughs. There’s an air of abandonment that makes us feel as though we’ve stumbled upon some otherworldly place.
Each apple tree along the lane exhibits a different variety of fruit; each one a mystery to me. And as so many of our old apple varieties have such wonderful names, I stop to wonder what they might be called.
Back home the old apple tree in the garden hasn’t produced as much fruit this year. But there have been pickings enough for a saucepan full of cosy beetroot and apple soup. And in the cool of the cellar a handful more are stored, each one carefully wrapped in a layer of paper, ready for turning into gingerbread baked apples or for adding to braised red cabbage.
I always associate apples with October, and with Hallowe’en; memories of bobbing for apples in the days of simple, homespun festivities, before shop-bought costumes and branded Hallowe’en treats.
As a nod to that custom our table on All Hallow’s Eve will be decorated with apples, each one holding a tealight for a comforting glow.