Dear Friends,

This week it’s Edward Shepard writing for Don. Usually when Don is away, I have fun writing ridiculous scenarios for his absence. I’ve written that Don has been lost in La Mancha, away on a vision quest in Las Vegas, kidnapped by a vengeful all-female biker gang, hiding in his basement because of a botched spray-tan, even abducted by aliens.

But this time, the real reason for Don’s absence is actually very interesting: he’s in China meeting some of Small Dog Electronics’ supply partners. He’s also taking the opportunity to inspect the factories where the goods we import for sale are manufactured. I know Don is taking photos during his travels in China, and I hope we’ll be able to share them on our blog Barkings! soon.

Here in Vermont, it’s not only peak foliage season but also peak apple season. (After years of working at Small Dog, it’s virtually impossible for me not to capitalize the word “apple.”) Vermont has some of the finest apples growing in the world. The long, northern summer days, sloping mountain terrain, and crisp autumn nights make for amazingly flavorful fruit. Also, the moderate scale of many of Vermont’s orchards—along with the pleasure many Vermonters get from eating local food—allows our apple farmers to experiment with interesting new varieties, as well as maintain heirloom or heritage cultivars that have vanished in most the world.

Every autumn, my local grocery store features an array of these unusual cultivars, alongside the more familiar versions. Cultivars I spied the other day include Crimson Crisp, Crimson Topaz, Roxbury Russet, Golden Supreme, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Gravenstein, Zesta, Esopus Spitzenburg, Creston, Pound Sweets and Haralson.

It’s a treat to go in and browse this ever-changing array of local, seasonal fruit. Many of these cultivars aren’t suitable for long-distance shipping, or else their peak production period is too brief to allow mass distribution. Also, many of the older heirloom varieties don’t look “pretty” and wouldn’t sell in most grocery stores. Their skin may be mottled, their shape disfigured, or their size unconventional. But they sure do taste good!

Ok, I should stop writing about apples and write about Apples!

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