Category: Nature (page 1 of 2)

Exploring natural cider in France

Last year was jam-packed with change: I moved to the westernmost tip of France, in Brittany. The region’s name, Finistère, roughly translates to “End of the World.” Though not as wild as my native Northwest–big farming has done a number on the landscape–Brittany has much to offer in the way of quiet beaches, crashing waves and some of the most spectacular storms I’ve ever witnessed. I’m also convinced that rainbows are born out here on the tip of the world: they sprout on the horizon with nearly every cloudburst.

Brittany is also one of France’s traditional cider-making regions. I recently visited La Maison du Cidre, a micro cider farm reviving traditional methods: no pesticides, no added yeasts, no filtering. Like natural wine makers, La Maison du Cidre puts respect for the fruit first. The result is a surprising natural cider that encapsulates the crisp, bitter-sweet terroir  of Finistère. Read more about French natural cider in my article for Sprudge Wine.

I was so inspired by their work–and the stout, earthy apples they tend to–that I decided to dig a little deeper into natural cider. This year, along with craft coffee and craft beer, I’ll be learning more about natural cider and sharing my discoveries with you.

Photo by Jean-Marie Heidinger

Notes from the Road: Sunset Limited

I was on a train somewhere in west Texas when the rain came. A smattering of droplets grew to a curtain that obscured the café car’s arching glass window as the Sunset Limited slowed to a stop. I looked up from my book in time to see the sky crack open. Where there had been slabs of fissured earth and pale dust, a web of frothy rivulets as dark as cinnamon and as moist as milk bled color into the ground.

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Notes from the Road: Ardèche

Ardèche in summer: bleached stone, green rivers, shadows in flight.

After putting my last bit of strength into one final climb, I picked my way down to the river snaking below the cliffs, tripping over stones and reaching out to crush rosemary needles between my calloused fingers.

Harness and helmet stashed in a shadow, I walked along the pebbled bank until I found a bend with enough privacy to strip down unseen; some urban prudishness kept me from taking off my underwear. I slipped into the cool water, giddy and grateful, wet cotton clinging to my hips.

Above me, the stone ruins of a church warmed to gold as the sun slid into that evening angle that magnifies the pulse in everything. Tiny silver fish darted just below the river’s clear surface. A bird glided past, scanning the shallows for dinner. Bobbing along on bent knees, I tried to blend into the scene before me, knowing I had little to offer the actors but admiration.