Category Archives: life lessons

Squeezing the best out of life


Since the early 90’s we’ve had a family tradition of going to the farm of some of our dearest friends, they are known to us as Mama & Papa Pogo, who are surrogate grandparents to our four kids, to make apple cider. We met the Pogos when we lived in Papua New Guinea. They were new people to the country and had been sent to our outstation for cultural immersion. Kris and I had recently had a string of new people sent through our station, many of them cultural insensitive, most of them unable to deal with the high altitude and rugged terrain of Marawaka. We watched as these two got out of the 6-seater Cessna 207 and saw their wrinkled faces and white hair. We both thought, “You’ve got to be kidding. They’ll never make the walk to our house from the end of the airstrip!” We were wrong.

Mama and Papa Pogo impressed and inspired us from hour one. We soon became fast friends and Kris and I decided that as we grow older we wanted to do it like they are… using the opportunity of age to widen our lives, rather than succumb to the temptation of narrowing for the convenience of routine and familiarity. We figure there are realities, like poor health, that can force one to limit life, but there is a large element of choice in this. We choose to squeeze the best out of life like Mama & Papa Pogo.

Which brings us back to the apple cider. Every year about this time – despite the busy schedule of the start of the school year and the subsequent acceleration of church life – we head down to Howling Mountain Farm. We get there in the evening and talk over a cup of hot chocolate before crawling into cozy beds all made up for us. In the morning we wake up to a great breakfast and then head to the orchard. We pick barrels of a variety of types of apples (that’s my son, Jordan, up in a Fireside apple tree in the photo), and then wash the dust off (they are organic), quarter and put them through the cleverly designed apple press Papa Pogo and buddies manufactured years back.

We laugh, reminisce, tell stories and make sure everyone knows just how important we are to each other. And just like those relationships, we make sure that we don’t miss a bit of one apple, because we don’t want to lose a drop of what they have to offer.

So as we enjoy the day a steady stream of clear, turning brown as it flows, liquid pours from the press. We drink freely from it then and there and gather the most (there is far too much to consume then) into gallon jugs to enjoy the rest of the year.

A few hours later we are back in our south Minneapolis home with enough cider to make the wonder of a crisp fall day reappear magically in our mouths until we can squeeze apples again. We also have enough love to make sure we are reminded to continue opening our lives until we get a chance to squeeze some more again from Mama & Papa Pogo.

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.   
Isaiah 55.1-2 NIV