PORT TOWNSEND — Between 11 a.m. and noon Wednesday out at the Alpenfire apple orchard, the wild creatures made their appearances.
A bald eagle, after sunning itself high in an evergreen, took flight toward Discovery Bay. A great blue heron, wings in slow motion, cruised silently overhead.
And among the profusion of white apple blossoms, thousands of bees filled the air with buzz.
Alpenfire Orchards & Cidery, with its 5 acres of trees and refuge for wildlife, is the place for the first in-person field trip this year with the Jefferson County Historical Society (JCHS). Part of the First Friday Speaker Series’ “Art of Making” program, it’s a venture outdoors, away from the Zoom presentations of the past many months.
“We’re very excited” to be inviting people out at last, said Amy Swanson, JCHS programs assistant.
Just 30 tickets are available for the event, which will start at 7 p.m. Friday in the Alpenfire orchard, 220 Pocket Lane, off Cape George Road just outside Port Townsend. Officially the program is an hour, Swanson said, but patrons will be welcome to stay longer if they like.
Reservations can be made at JCHSmuseum.org; a $10 donation is suggested. For those who can’t make it Friday, Alpenfire’s snug tasting room and spacious front yard are open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays.
This First Friday series celebrates local people who make things: Last month Pete and Cathy Langley of the Port Townsend Foundry did an online program, and on July 2, Kim Winkle and the Port Townsend School of Woodworking will come into the spotlight in a Zoom presentation.
At Alpenfire, Bear and Nancy Bishop make organic cider, or “country wine,” as it’s called in Europe.
Working a fully certified organic farm is intensely challenging, but the couple would not have it any other way. Organic practices are a way to do their part to protect people, watersheds, animals — “everything we care about,” they write on their website, alpenfirecider.com.
This spring, Bear is exulting in the return of the bees to the orchard: “That’s just a beautiful thing,” he said, gazing up at them flitting among the masses of flowers.
And when Nancy, his wife of 43 years, joined him for a walk among the trees Wednesday morning, she couldn’t resist doing two things: adjusting the cables which train the branches upward and taking a deep breath of the blossoms’ fragrance.
The Bishops met in high school in Longview, and they discovered cider while they explored British Columbia together when they were just 19.
Careers followed, as did their son Philippe, born in 1979. Then, when they were in their late 40s, they made the leap onto this land.
Now Nancy and Bear are 65 and, having been through the COVID year, they look forward to another season of blooming, fruiting and harvest.
The annual Olympic Peninsula Apple & Cider Festival comes in early October with a variety of Jefferson County cideries, including Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Eaglemount Winery/Cidery, Propolis Brewing and Two Hooligans Cider.
The Bishops are still deciding the ways Alpenfire will participate.
Meantime, Nancy made a forecast about this apple season.
“Looking at the blossoms,” she said, “it’s going to be good.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]