When Justin discovered that my familiarity with the Leelanau Peninsula consisted of a single stroll through Sutton’s Bay and a similarly brief visit to Fishtown, he insisted that I get out and explore. Now, while half the apple harvest hangs in the orchards and grapes still dangle from their vines. Now, before the crimsons and the goldenrods and the bright greens of autumn fade into the browns and grays and blahs of winter.
So I did. Justin made me a map and highlighted a route that wound through the countryside taking me past the Bardenhagen Family Farm where our Early Glow Strawberries are grown, up Jelinek Road through the orchards where Marty & Martin Jelinek grow our Harlayne Apricots, around a curving slope of land lined with Gary Fredrickson’s apple and pear trees, down a little dirt road to the farm where Gene and Kathy Garthe tend a fledging quince orchard on our behalf, and through the adorable little town of Northport to Christmas Cove Farm, where John and Phyllis Kilcherman curate an impressive collection of 240 varieties of antique apples.
And everything was so breathtakingly beautiful that I found myself committing all sorts of distracted driver transgressions: straying into the oncoming lane as I admired the scenery, slowing to a near stop to contemplate an alternate route, or swerving off onto the narrow shoulder to hop out and take a photo.
Still, I managed to make it safely all the way to the tippy top of the peninsula and back again, breathing in the crisp air, snacking on antique apples, watching leaves flutter to the ground, and basking in the golden glow of autumn.