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Guest post by Stephanie Klose, a Brooklyn-based writer and editor, a contributor to Serious Eats New York, a blogger at, and apparently someone who feels a tremendous amount of upstate pride.

When you prune an apple tree, you need to cut the branches back far enough that you can swing a dead cat through them.

That is a piece of advice I got in 1993 or so, from an old man in Castleton-on-Hudson, NY. I was 16. He was drinking at the bar of the restaurant where a guy friend I very, very much wanted to be my boyfriend worked and we struck up a conversation while I was waiting. I learned a lot about his time in the army and the dogs he used to breed and whatever assorted useful facts he saw fit to share. Granted, his pruning guidelines inspired a lot more questions than they answered*, but that’s not the point. The point is that I grew up in the kind of place where that was the sort of thing a drunk, lonely old man would think a 16-year-old girl would need to know: rural eastern New York State.

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