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The Day Apple Butter & Memories Were Made

The story I will be posting below is one that I had written a few years ago, November 19, 2018 to be exact. There's something about being cooped up inside that makes the memories start to flood. I have to say that this November memory is probably my favorite.

November 19th, 2018

On Friday evening we loaded the brass kettle, our apple peelers and the kids with sleeping bags in the family vehicle and off we went to Mamaw and Papaw's. When we arrived, we were greeted with hugs and kisses and supper ready. We had lasagna, salad and homemade bread. Supper was delicious, but we didn't linger at the table like usual. No, this evening we quickly cleaned up our plates and prepped for a night of apple peeling. Everybody had their favorite peeler or knife and so the peeling began... and so did the stories. It's a funny thing when you peel apples, because it seems to prove so many memories and so many stories can be told. There were the competitions of who had the longest peel without it breaking or discussions about knives; whose knife was whose, why it was their favorite and  the way it felt in their hand. The smell of apples filled the room and so did our love for this tradition which is apple butter making. The boys were a bit impatient that night. They were excited to spend the first night in Papaw George's cabin. The cabin is now completed with a wood stove in the corner, a built-in bed, futon, built-in table and benches. The boys and dad decided to head to the cabin when the apples were peeled and I'm sure for two little wide-eyed boys, this was one of the grandest times they've ever had. 

When I woke up on Saturday morning, which was about 6:30,  I could hear people hustling around and I could smell bacon frying. I got up, got dressed and walked into the kitchen to see Mamaw making breakfast and the men putting on the apples. When making apple butter we wash, peel and cut up the apples the night before, then the next morning we build a fire outside, we take my great-great grandmother's brass Kettle and set it over the fire and add about half a gallon of water and begin adding our apples. When I walked into the kitchen I was up and raring to go. I begin to help Mamaw fry the bacon while I sipped on my coffee. Papaw walked in, hugged Mamaw and said "Sweetheart, how long have you been up?'' She said " I started breakfast about 5 this morning" And Boy! Was breakfast good. We had sausage gravy, biscuits, bacon, fried eggs and coffee.

 The fog was heavy that morning, but as the day went on, the sun came out and made the cold bearable. Before long, cousins drop by and taco soup was served for lunch. Mamaw Atlas came over and we talked and looked through Mamaw's Blue Ridge pottery. We went outside to see how things had progressed. Haven, Heidi and I sang hymns around the fire, because we were together and our hearts were glad and thankful.

For over 5 hours now, we've all taken turns stirring the apple butter with the long wooden paddle. Soon more friends arrived and so the laughter continued and the chattering went on until it was time to take the butter off. We lifted the big brass kettle and sat it next to the table, where we had an assembly line of people to help can the apple butter. On one end we had people with dipping pots and spoons filling our clean jars and then we had people wiping jars clean and drying the lids and screwing the rings on, then placing them into the boxes. If you have ever canned you know that there's nothing more satisfying than after the apple butter comes off and it's put into the jars and you hear the "pop" of the seal. We all gathered for supper. There was ham, biscuits and leftover taco soup from lunch, but most importantly we had the hot apple butter. I fixed my plate and took my biscuit, I cut it in half, put a pat of butter on each side and I topped it with the hot apple butter. I sat between my best girlfriend, another dear friend and my brother and we talked, we chatted, we laughed and we giggled like younguns'. We shared recipes, memories and aspirations. We headed up to Papaw's cabin and we all just talked because sometimes there's nothing better than just talking to one another. Before long it was time to say goodnight, we cleaned up our mess and headed home. And though that day, that Friday and Saturday, that weekend is now over, something tells me that I'll always have this memory, no matter what and it's my opinion that people just need to peel more apple these days.

Hannah Hensley

Nov 19, 2018



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