Last October, in the height of the harvest and trim season, my good friend Curtis invited me to a favorite annual Southern Oregon event, the Cider Party at Indigo Ray’s homestead. Indigo is Curtis’ aunt, and I first met Curtis at another annual event on their land, the Iris Party, which takes place in spring. Along with an extensive array of irises and other beautiful flowers, Indigo’s property also has numerous apple trees, producing such an abundant crop that she created the cider party to find a home for all the excess produce each fall.
With an old-fashioned hand-powered cedar cider press, dozens of gallons of fresh cider are produced each fall from this wonderful crop, shared freely amongst friends of the community. Many of the people who attend live in the Colestin Valley, and many others are from the larger community of Ashland and the Rogue Valley.
It’s always a chill crowd, with homemade wine, acoustic music, and children running about with the unbridled glee that only children in a beautiful, natural, free environment can evince. Although it was unseasonably warm for October, the water of the pond was still quite cold. The canoe was popular, as always, with the kids, but I was the only one feeling up for a dip. With a bright sun and mid sixties temperatures, there was nothing Wim Hof about it, but it was still cold enough to merit a few surprised comments and glances askance.
I was glad to get to introduce Reid and Curtis, both good friends of mine who had never met each other. Reid, his daughter Hannah, and Nick and I all rode out together from Talent. We were also joined by Nick's aunt Julia, another friend from the Ashland area. Along with an abundance of cider, we also enjoyed a wide variety of vegetarian potluck dishes. I was also glad to see my first permaculture teacher Hazel (aka Tom Ward), with whom I had a nice chat. Hazel seems to know everyone in the valley, and I very much enjoyed catching up.
If you have never had fresh pressed apple cider, I cannot express to you how important it is for you find some. If you don’t have access to apple orchards or a cider press, then find a local farm. If you live too far south for apples, then you might be able to find some imported fresh, raw cider. If not, then take a trip up to the northern climes and get thee to a cider party!