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Column: An autumn drive

Last week we drove past several pumpkin fields. Most years there are hundreds of pumpkins of all sizes in the fields and large piles at stands for children to pick from.  This year stands are few and far between, while most pumpkins neatly arranged and priced on  benches or wagons.

Because of our unusual growing seasons, early predictions were that the price would be higher for Halloween and canned pumpkin would be expensive for the holidays. Gourds and squash are smaller than other years.

Several days later we went on a leaf peeping ride south along the Mississippi to see the fall colors and buy apples. The colors were brilliant shades of gold, yellow, brown, olive green, orange and brown.  We noticed very few red patches as most of the area was beyond peak.

We had lunch in Lake City overlooking Lake Pepin. The cliffs across the lake were breath-taking with na-ture's blazing colors while the lake looked cold with a deep blue water with white caps and only a few boats out.

The only apple stand we found was just south of Lake City. The price of apples was higher than last year in spite of a bumper crop this year.  We bought a bag called Golden Honey. They were green like the Granny Smith, a softer apple with a sweet yet tart meat. They are so very good.

We found honey expensive. Now is a good time to visit the farmers market because they will be closing for the season. The Great Pumpkin Patch market between Winona and Rochester on Highway 14, usually stacked with piles of squash and pumpkins only had displays on a few wagons.

In spite of the wind, we enjoyed the simple joy of the falling colored leaves. We agreed that the while price of pumpkin for pies, bars, muffins, breads, cupcakes and desserts maybe a little higher this year most Americans will be ready for pumpkin pie come Thanksgiving.

Apple crumble

8 apples, peeled cored and sliced

1 cup water

1 box spice cake mix

1 stick melted butter

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

Spray 9 x 13 pan; layer sliced apples in pan and  cover with water.  In a bowl mix cake mix, butter, cinnamon and brown sugar until crumbled. Sprinkle over apples. Bake in 350 oven for 55 minutes until crumble is a light brown.