APPLES, APPLES and More APPLES
Our house is situated on a rock bluff which served as the orchard for the farm house next door. The folks who owned the Olympia Oyster Company moved a small house into the orchard in August of 1913 so that they could bring their family to summer in the cool breezes off the bay and away from the smell and heat of the mud flats, the sound and the railroad traffic noise. We have a lovely breeze and we have apples.
Of the original Orchard and nut tree grove, only one 100+ year old Gravenstein apple tree remains. It is a magnificent and beautiful specimen and the apples have that wonderful crisp, tart flavor that just excites the taste buds and really refreshes. It is an early apple producer in the year and is quite often just considered a “cross pollinator” by contemporary growers. We have pruned, fertilized and healed the “rot”; watched a Pileated Woodpecker drilling long lines of holes all the way around the tree truck in a most even and elegant line. Sapsuckers cruise the branches as do lots of finches and my Mum was delighted to watch the antics of the Goldfinches as they darted back and forth among the leaves each season in the last years of her life.
We were awakened one night by a family of raccoons taking big bites out of their apples up in the tallest limbs and right outside our open bedroom window about 2.5 stories up – this tree is no slouch. The apples are so tasty that many of the unban foresters, landscapers, and growers in the area come by during pruning season to take grafts of the tree for their new flavorless apple trees at home. Johnny Appleseed must have made his rounds because nearly every house in my neighborhood sports an ancient knarled tree in the yard. Huge number of apples are left to the yellow jackets, opossums, and to rot on the ground under trees – or pilling up in storm drains. Hundreds of trees have been cut down by people who did not want them or the responsibility of the trees in their yards.
Because people do not take care of their apple trees, one cannot transport apples from one side of the state to the other, and extra produce cannot be given to nursing homes, food banks, or schools.
Our trees cost us over $600 for pruning this year and over $400 for organic pest protection. All three of our freezers are full of applesauce, apple pie fillings, and the cupboard is full of dried apples. We have a bountiful harvest every year.
This year I wish we didn’t.
I wish I was not feeling so responsible this year and with all the economic woes around I wish I could drop my adage about being a “waste not, want not” kind of person.
It’s all the in the attitude and mine stinks!
I have changed my pattern of picking up windfalls by placing the cull bucket at one point in the yard, and the dried apple bucket across another side, and the sauce apples and pie apple baskets in another spot. Then I stretch and bend and pick the apples up three per hand and walk them to the proper receptacle. This makes for much stretching, bending and walking around the yard and with each step I work at thinking about all the apples and this beautiful tree as being a symbol of the abundance that is available with my life. Today, I kept turning back to the overwhelming abundance of apples and not in a joyous manner.
As I pack up bags of apples for my neighbors who would like some for their larders for this winter season, I thank the apples for allowing me to be so generous, then my thinking changes to worry about who else I can give them too; that I have no room in my freezer or containers to put the sauce into and share.
Another change in my thinking comes when I find myself at the stove or sink alone for several hours and I cannot seem to make up stories in my head, think about the pioneer spirit or contemplate about how happy people will be to receive my offers at Christmas time. And dare I say it, I miss my kids and mother as so often we just seemed to solve so many problems (of the whole world!) and have a good time just visiting. I remember too, being about 3 years old and standing on a stool and drying the dishes and sharing time with my father. The kitchen just seems lonely and void of anything but me and the apples – repeating the tasks at hand.
I know what powerful healing medicine there is in these apples, especially when I make the sauce with no added sugar and mill the skins off after cooking. The wonderful rich/tart flavor and all that pectin makes folks on heart medications GI tract calm and soothed, but I am not selling any of my sauce these days around town because most of my buyers are gone from this place. I am no longer attempting to get certified as organic and no one seems interested in the healing power of food and certainly not an ol’ apple.
I do not believe the apples are doing anything wrong. I think I must change my attitude. I am in charge of my thinking so maybe it is more a matter of why do I not just change my thinking – “presto chango”? There are just so many apples in the here and now. I guess I will just crank up the radio and listen to as many news programs as I can while I pare and grind. I will get out my back pack and run to the store to get some more safe containers. I will give as much of it away as I am able and I will toss more to the raccoon, deer, opossums and the compost pile then I ever thought I would let go …
Ah there is the secret word…I said it….an important lesson of change is letting go.