I feel like we need to take our mind off things after a game like that. So...hello, everyone. Welcome to Pennsylvania.
I was born and raised in western Pennsylvania, and since the pandemic has forced all of my courses online, I’ve returned here once again. To the rolling mountains, whistling grass, and streams of trees that sing through the soft end-of-summer breeze. The trees populate the hillsides as if woven into the fabric of earth by a divine hand, their approach from over the horizon steady and beautiful.
As the sun sprouts beyond the mountains, the oblong shadows slowly recede into the curling waves of Appalachia, the chorus of trees awaken the countryside with their song. The streams of sun kiss the branches and leaves, making the neighborhood oaks look like stalks of popcorn dotting the streets. Midday approaches, and the apple harvest is in full swing. I think being raised around here, enveloped by a blanket of hemlocks, maples, and the ever popular weeping willows (mother nature’s firework) has made me fond of trees, and when the time comes that they bear fruit, life is made only sweeter.
This past week, my family and I resumed a tradition of going out into the country to pick up bushels of apples. Some years we get only a handful, others we return home with a trunk full, a cornucopia of Appalachia’s best offerings. The filling Honeycrisps, the tart McIntoshes and Granny Smiths, the ever unique Galas, and my personal favorite, those yellow, soft Ginger Golds. Sometimes you forget what a good apple tastes like, but one bite out of any of these will bring those delicious memories flooding back.
While out, I decided to capture a few highlights of our road trip around the orchard landscapes. We had stopped along a certain farm’s orchard to take a gander at the concourse of apple trees, along with an establishing view of the cusp of a mountainside. Might as well share a bit of Pennsylvania with the many Texans that have tuned in looking for a reprieve.
The dirt pathway that meanders directly into the rolling hills, crop patterns, and green mountains lies perfectly still against that sharp blue sky. The cacophony of crops (which I think are either potatoes or beans?) providing a healthy juxtaposition to the plain roadside. But, over to the right holds the star of the show:
Absolutely gorgeous trees, brimming to the seams with hearty, red apples. Not as large as they tend to grow, these trees have been constrained in certain fashion to generate a truly unfathomable amount of delicious product while still being small enough to allow for easy picking. Nonetheless, they are quite the sight, the red snowflakes providing such a wealthy contrast across every image that it almost feels like an impressionist’s vision.
An endless foyer of green, trailing as far as the eye can see and beyond the horizon. Incalculable supply of the peck’s red pleasantries that beckons any curious passers by into unbridled avarice. Boxes marked by the farm checkpoint the alley, providing an estimate to the yield expected from just one of the hundreds of harmonious halls stretching to those faraway hills. There appears to be no end to the isle, and I can guarantee that it can’t be seen in real life, either. A closer look:
Practically begging to be picked, the peduncles of this tree are actually weighed down by its red inflorescence. Lush greens and deep reds, a slight breeze carries the smell of nature and fresh apples to all ravenous guests. Hard to imagine that literally every single tree along this isle looks like this, but hey, someone has to fill those boxes! Of course, with as many as apples as this ones carrying, there must have been a few to escape, a closer look below:
Underneath nestles those that escaped their stem and now color the shadows, soon to be plucked by a hungry resident of the nearby woodlands, ready to splurge. Even under the sunlight, they populate the floor nearly as much as they fill their trees. It almost feels like they’ve gone on their summer trip to the shadows to enjoy a day in the shade, ready to jump into the grass like it’s an ocean of adventure. Man, are they colorful, though.
Next door resides an orderly file of youthful neighbors! Closer inspection reveals these greener trees are still loaded with everyone’s favorite, but will still need a bit longer to enter their hay day. Maybe next year I’ll be picking from these trees, instead.
Well, that concludes my short photo tour of the apple-coated countryside of western PA. The lands surrounding are so powerfully rich in their hues, and the fruit is even more exquisite detail to mark a fine resolution to the summer season. As beautiful as it is to look at it here, it’s even more breathtaking when you’re standing in it, letting the winds carry your sense to the hills over yonder. It makes you feel like a kid again, and it’s why I’ll never tire of going for Apples every September.
But, there’s actually a little bit more to the countryside besides just farms and fruits. Rumor has it that behind the hills rests a beautiful mansion, a retreat for the wealthy and the adventurous. A few turns here and there, down through the hillside, and there she is, Bedford Springs:
An absolute gargantuan retreat all cozied up under the hills of farmland, Bedford Springs is one of the oldest, most storied hotels in the area. I’ve personally never stayed there myself, but we did spend an. afternoon a few years back exploring the campus, and it’s just as rich, beautiful, and spooky as you’d expect. It feels a bit out of place, a gigantic, expensive hotel in the middle of nowhere. But, even now, they’re still receiving plenty of curious visitors (which feels a bit unnerving considering the state of the world). I guess the ghosts of this side of the state need at least one large location to call their haunt for the rest of history.
Below are a handful of other photos I took during our brief trip. As prolific as I have been so far, some of these photos are better off speaking for themselves. I hoped you enjoyed this quick jaunt around the beautiful, quirky world of the western Pennsylvania countryside.
Here’s your SNOT for this week to talk about whatever you please. Enjoy your weekend, everyone.