Anyone who lives in and around Bethel will tell you that it begins to feel like Fall when we pick up a batch or ten of Blue Jay Orchard’s Apple Cider Donuts. Yes, there’s the apples, the pumpkin patch and a farm store which sells all sorts of baked goodies, syrups, ciders, jams and even local honey, but the donut is in a class by itself. Pillowy in texture with a crunchy sugary coating and just the right amount of decadence, it embodies the very essence of the season. Sorry, pumpkin-spiced latte.
Located in the northeastern corner of the lovely little town of Bethel, this self-sustaining 122-plus acres of orchard has over 20 varieties of apples and attracts visitors from New York and New Jersey. Last Saturday the parking lot got full within hours of opening, but luckily, we were there a day earlier, on Friday.
We made a beeline for the apple trees and filled up our bag with juicy red Cortlands. I read that it took 10 years to take down the full-sized apple trees growing there and move to dwarf apple trees so as to make it easier for us visitors to reach. They were not offering wagon rides this year and rightfully so but other regulars like the tractor and the height chart were there to give us a much-needed sense of normalcy in these abnormal times.
We usually stay longer but this year was different. We wandered around less, remained conscious of maintaining distance with the other visitors especially those without masks, and of course, we didn’t spend as much time in the store.
With everything changing around us, it’s nice to have this constant, this same old friendly orchard with its same old apples. Same old me going through tons of apple recipes before deciding on apple muffins. Same as we did last year and the one before that and so on. It’s a tradition in the making, and a beautiful Bethel one at that.