It’s October! In my world, this means Halloween has officially started!
You may know that I LOVE Halloween. We’ve already made a chicken wire ghost, we have a room full of new Halloween decorations (aka birthday presents!), and we’ve blocked out the coming weekend to get our pumpkins from the farm, maybe attend Penrose Apple Day, and to unpack and festivate the house for my favorite day of days.
I’m going to dress this place up, too with ghost stories! Despite not existing on the same plane as the otherwordly, I have a plethora of tales involving the mysterious, the haunted, and the paranormal. But first, I have to tell you something else. Today, you learn about my best and longest-running tradition because this is how I start October and we have to do things right around here.
On October 1st, I unpack my little crock pot and wash it out. I plug it in and fill the crock with apple cider (NOT juice. CIDER!) then toss in the following:
I turn it on low and leave it to simmer overnight. On October 2nd, we awake to the smell of almost-burnt holiday cider, ready for consumption.
But that’s only half of the tradition. The other half is that I don’t let this liquid deliciousness run out until December 31st. As it gets low, I pour more cider in (I often go through 10-20 gallons per season, depending on how many people come over), add more spices, keep it going. I turn it off during the day but as soon as we get home at night, we turn it back on and make sure to have at least one mug-full before bed. Once in awhile, the spice sludge builds up too much, too thick and there’s no room for cider. When that happens, I dump the sludge but I do not wash or even rinse the crock. I put it back, full of spicy remnants, and start again.
The cider changes over the course of three months; on October 2nd, it is pale, tart, and crisp. It tastes like fresh apples, burnished leaves and autumn air. By December 31st, it is dark, rich, and deeply fragrant. It is redolent of pinecones under layers of snow, of warm hearthsides, of hearty meals among the best of friends.
Come January 1st, whatever was not consumed is tossed out. The crock pot is washed, packed, and put away where it waits patiently for the first of October to come again.
Welcome to autumn, my friends. The potionarium is open and the cider is brewing. Next time, we’ll have a ghost story.