Not that long ago, my husband and I were running errands and decided to finish the day by going for a walk. When he turned right out of the Costco parking lot, I immediately said,

Wait–this is not the way to nature!

This has become a running joke between us, but it’s also indicative of my life right now. I’m all about the nature.


James River


I’m sure there’s probably some psychological explanation. Something to do with my kids growing up, or the uncertainty I feel with…well, a lot of things.

But mostly, I just like nature. So I fit in as many walks as I can manage, which is good, because I really like dessert too.

Please don’t ask me to choose between nature and a donut.

Luckily, at Carter Mountain Orchard in Charlottesville, Virginia, you can have both (if your heart so desires).


Apple cider donut at Carter Mountain Orchard

Charlottesville, Virginia


Pretty Pink Lady 


Some kind of cherry tree


Fuji apples pathway



The Fuji apples were so juicy, but do not underestimate the power of the donut. The smell of them at the orchard’s Apple Barn is hypnotizing. I can’t tell you how many times we replaced the word apple with donut, while we were picking.

Can you reach that donut for me? Wow, this donut tree is big. How many pounds of donuts do you think is in our bag?

Not only was nature at the orchard awesome, I even got a bonus Mommy Moment. After I commented on all the cute toddlers in the pumpkin patch, my son hopped in to humor me.


Ah, the power of nature (and donuts).

What’s the report on nature (or donuts) in your neck of the woods? Other than fresh off the tree, what’s your favorite way to serve apples?

Happy Monday!

42 thoughts on “On Nature and Donuts

  1. Susanna Leonard Hill

    Ah, Coleen! A post after my own heart! We are truly kindred spirits! 🙂 You know how I love donuts (er, apples)! So great you got your teenager to give you a toddler moment 🙂 And I especially love the photo of “some kind of cherry tree” – that’s my kind of plant identification! 🙂

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      When I first saw that tree, I thought it was grapes. LOL. But then, my husband said, no that’s cranberries. To which I replied, Aren’t they in bogs?
      No botany scholars in this family. 🙂 Thanks, Susanna!

  2. Tameri Etherton

    I love it! Your son is so cute. And I love that ‘some kind of cherry tree’, too. Nature is awesome (so are donuts). I wish we got the beautiful fall colors like you do. I guess I’ll have to drive up to the mountains and spend some time in nature to get a snippet of what you have. That would be lovely, now that I think about it. You’ve inspired me to go out and find my own apple orchard! I just hope they have donuts, too.

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I’ll bet California is just beautiful. We went to a wedding on a mountain in CA a few years back. The reception was in a big open barn overlooking a vineyard. It was so pretty!!

  3. Beth K. Vogt

    Well, my favorite part of this post was the photo op with your son revisiting the toddler years for you.
    And apples? I love to slice ’em and serve up with caramel for dipping. Yum. Great after school snack. Great anytime snack.

  4. Catherine

    There is nothing better than nature and donuts. That’s a funny saying about the way to nature. It must be so hard sending kids off to Uni and stuff *hugs*.
    I love the pumpkin spice muffins at Tims and a coffee of course.

  5. Ruth Schiffmann

    Nature and donuts – great combination. I’m not big on apples, but my daughters did go picking this year and so I made a super-sized pie. I’m not big on donuts either, but the apple cider donut sure sounds worth trying. As always, you have some great pictures here. Love that first one! The water looks just perfect =)

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I guess I’m kind of picky about apples. The Fuji apples were the best, in my opinion. I like apples that are crisp and sweet. I don’t like tart ones, like Granny Smith. Even the Pink Lady apples were not sweet enough for me!

  6. Kristy K. James

    One of my favorite places in the world is a nearby apple orchard. They have unique store that looks like Scotty beamed it here from the late 1800s. Stepping through the door,your poor nose is hit with the wonderful aroma of fresh baked goods – the kind of baked goods that make you say, diet? What’s a diet? They also sell all sorts of unique items, in addition to apples, pies, and pumpkins, cherry juice, organic vinegar, honey, apple slushes.

    This year, for the very first time (since the one autumn I was in Mississippi for the season), I didn’t visit the orchard. Because they sell the BEST donuts, and because I love them SO much that I’m afraid I’d talk myself into eating one. While my taste buds would weep for joy, the rest of me would pay the price for a few weeks, so it’s just easier to stay away until I can figure out a way to make donuts I can have…and that I can keep in the van so when I leave the orchard, I don’t feel deprived.

    Would you give your son a hug from me please? He is TOTALLY sweet and adorable. 🙂

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I know exactly what you mean about talking yourself into eating one. I’m not supposed to eat them either and yet…I did. It was good. Was it worth it? Ask me later. LOL.
      The store you describe reminds me of an old fashioned general store we used to go to when we lived in Michigan. I LOVED that place. What is it about homemade jams and apple cider slushies??
      And I will hug my son–he needs the extra ones–as he sprained his ankle on a run last night. He is now hobbling on crutches! Thankfully we have donuts to spare to ease his pain. 🙂

      1. Kristy K. James

        What is it about homemade jams and apple cider slushies that taste SO much better in old fashioned stores? Maybe we all secretly desire to go back in time to hang out with the Walton’s. 🙂

        Aww…too bad about your son’s ankle. I hope it’s a lot better by now. Did the donuts help? 😉

        1. Coleen Patrick Post author

          Oh I loved the Walton’s!! Something so comforting, calming, I don’t know, just a good thing. 🙂 My son’s doing better, he’s still wearing a big boot (i call it Franken boot), but he’s good. Donuts eased the discomfort I’m sure. 🙂

  7. Phil

    Well, considering I live in Manhattan we have to trek to one of the greenmarkets here for our apples. The Union Square Greenmarket is amazing! Once the weather gets colder all the apple stands sell fresh made hot apple cider and apple cider doughnuts. I love them both! It’s so great to walk around sipping a cup of that sweet apple goodness while perusing the market.

    Oh, and hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream is always a good choice! My inner fattie gets the best of me!

  8. Patricia Tilton

    Beautiful fall pictures — made me homesick for my dad’s apple trees. I used to love picking apples. Cool your son joined you. For eating I like Gala or Fuji, but for baking apple crisp, green Granny apples are the best! The apple doughnuts sounded good too. I keep forgetting you live in Virgina — I think of you as living in California.

    Coleen, there is usually a shift in us in our late 40s-50s, where we find ourselves more interested in nature, causes, spirituality and so on. Before that, we are so busy rearing kids and pursuing careers, that we aren’t always open to what is important. You are on that journey as I read your weekly blog entries. It only gets better. 🙂

  9. Patricia

    I live in the heart of apple country. I live in an area known as “Apple Hill.” This time of year, it’s a traffic nightmare. But, I do love the apples and it’s so easy to find lots of different kinds of apples. Mostly we have red or yellow delicious, but some orchards have other varieties as well. I like to get winesaps and me pies. They are real crisp and tart. Perfect for pies.

    And don’t get me started on carmel apples. A lot of the apple places sell sliced up apples and carmel sauce for dipping so it’s not so messy. I love that. We have apple wine, apple cider, apple tarts, cobblers, dumplings, anything sweet and yummy with apples.

    Great photos, Coleen. (Sorry I’ve been spelling your name wrong for so long.)

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      I tried a winesap off the tree. They do seem perfect for a pie–and I love me some pie. Yum. Thanks, Patricia. No biggee on the spelling, my mom went against the norm by dropping an L when she picked my name, so it happens a lot. 🙂

  10. Joanna Miller

    I never thought about nature and donuts before. But you made it all so perfectly logical. Oh, I want a donut now!

  11. Freeda Baker Nichols

    Lovely post with good pictures. Your son, I’m sure, made your outing a memorable adventure. Fuji apples are my favorite. I chopped some apple to add to chicken salad sandwiches tonight. My family likes Apple Crisp for dessert. We would love the donuts, too.

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      Yes, I was happy he joined us. 🙂 I’ve had chopped apple in salad before, you’re right it’s very tasty! I love the salty sweet contrast, with the crunch of course. Thanks, Freeda.

  12. Karen McFarland

    Coleen, you just brought out the best things about fall. Apples! Did you get to pick your own? And that donut looks delicious. I haven’t eaten a donut in ages. Just the thought of it made with apple sold me. I hope you enjoyed every morsel! 🙂

  13. Alarna Rose Gray

    Yum, those apple cider donuts sound delicious! I grew up in the Apple Isle (Tasmania) and so am not unfamiliar with the orchards, nor the sweet, crisp crunch of the fresh fruit. Our favourite tradition in Tassie is Apple Crumble. It’s an Aussie staple, really. Do you have that in the US? Stewed apple with a baked crumble of oats, butter, sugar, possibly some spices, on top. Yum.

  14. Chris Edgar

    My favorite way to serve apples, particularly of the Fuji variety, involves putting them into my mouth as quickly as possible after purchase without even washing them. I like the sensation of biting into the dry skin of the apple. I will probably have to curb this wretched excess eventually — some kind of bacteria I have failed to clean off the apple will convince me of that some day, no doubt.

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      It’s funny, there’s something about eating an apple right off the tree that makes it seem unnecessary to wash it first. All we did is polish it on our shirts. Ha ha. That would never fly at home! Thanks, Chris.

  15. 4amwriter

    I just made up a recipe for apple cake when our apple tree in the backyard gave us soooo many apples this year. It is my new fave way to eat apples. If I can’t have that, cold and crispy and fresh is the way to go. Your pics are awesome, looks like you had a lot of fun!

    1. Coleen Patrick Post author

      You have an apple tree in your yard? How cool! I’ve had apple cake a few times. The best was one that was a dense, but buttery cake. So good. 🙂 Thanks, Kate.

  16. Born Bookish

    I’m not a big apple eater but I just went apple picking for the first time ever recently! Unfortunately, everything on the trees was rotted =( We had to “pick” the good apples out of bins that I swear were from Stop & Shop or something haha. The orchard you went to looks amazing!

  17. Jules

    It’s funny, I love love love apples but prefer them just straight-up, the way nature made them. I’m not a huge fan of cooked apples or desserts with apples, although, I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at it, either. 😉

    Jules of Canines & Couture

  18. Sheila

    I feel the same way about nature and donuts. Those apple cider donuts are the best! That’s so great that your son hopped into that pumpkin patch. Enjoy those apples, donuts, and fall colors!

  19. Pat O'Dea Rosen

    Your husband clearly knows the way to nature. I’m glad he turned right out of the Costco lot because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the shot of the Fuji apple pathway, the apple trees, or your son in the pumpkin patch. Thanks for this fall getaway. Oh, the doughnut looks tempting, too.

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