To open his magical realism story, “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez puts his character in front of a firing squad and has him remember the first time his father introduced him to ice.
In a different magical realism story, which we heard in Norway from one of the owners of the Steinsto Fruit Farm, the opening line might be something about a group of seniors introduced to hard apple cider.
Last June, my husband and I had the chance to visit this lovely orchard on a steep mountainside above the Hardangerfjord in western Norway. While there, we enjoyed Heidi’s apple pie, a wonderful, buttery pastry that tasted a little like a pie and cake all in one. For a few cents we could even buy her recipe, which I did. Coming across it this week reminded me of the story she told. (Some followers of this blog have heard Heidi tell this and may find my recollection different from theirs. Remember the childhood game of telephone? This is what happens when stories get retold and passed along.)
The fruit farm’s younger owners decided to invite a group of elders from local senior housing to the farm to enjoy Heidi’s now-famous apple pie — 7,000 sold in the 2016 season. Their father, also a partner in the farm, makes hard cider for family gatherings, but does not sell it commercially. He decided to share his product with the seniors.
The weather on the day of the event was nasty, a total downpour. The bus carrying the seniors and all their gear managed to make it up the hill from the highway to the farmhouse. The family then helped escort their guests and move their walkers and canes indoors, not an easy task since there were stairs to reach the dining area and a large crowd needing help to climb them.
At last everyone had settled in and the family served the apple pie and ice cream. As if this weren’t enough of a treat, glasses of hard apple cider followed the dessert. Meanwhile the downpour worsened and the bus driver had to move the bus to the highway below, away from water moving downhill. The hosts fretted. It had been difficult enough to move the seniors and their equipment from the bus when it was close to the house. How would they ever walk them safely down the gravel road to the highway below? Especially after they had drunk the cider.
While their hosts worried, the seniors didn’t. They abandoned their walkers and canes and easily made the trip downhill. The hosts had to scramble to retrieve all the equipment and deliver it to the waiting bus. The elders’ aches and pains vanished with the attention, loving care, apple pie…and possibly the hard cider.
Last we heard, the cider maker was considering applying for all the licenses needed to sell his brew commercially. Here’s hoping he gets permission to sell internationally. Just for the sake of senior citizens here. Right. That makes me eligible too.