Growing up, we sang the Johnny Appleseed song before dinner. I don’t know where the tradition came from in our house. Since my mother was Catholic, I’d guess it came from my father’s side. Not that it makes a whole lot more sense theologically for Alabama Presbyterians to be singing a Swedenborgian anthem, but the hymn is suited for children and American as apple pie.

“And so I thank the Lord, 
For giving me the things I need,
The sun and the rain and the appleseed 
The Lord is good to me…”

Situated as we are between the harvest and hunter’s moons, it’s a good time to celebrate the bounty of the earth. This week’s feature tells about a new beginning for Virginia hard cider, a principle drink from Thomas Jefferson’s time through the 19th century that later succumbed to harder and finer imported tastes.

These days Virginia wine is making the headlines, both because of its association with celebrity and because years of experimentation have begun to produce a very fine product suited to the place. The rolling hills of the Virginia piedmont have always been rich grounds. Maybe we’re on the verge of another agricultural boom, this time based on value-added products sourced from local fields, vineyards and orchards.

One of the New Testament’s old-sounding parables:

“And no one puts new wine into old wine skins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, ‘The old is good.’”

Substitute cider, at table and in allegory, sometime this week for a fresh taste of an old staple.