This poem made me laugh at myself. I had never seen it until after the last of my many giddy visits to the apple ranch this fall, but its music plays such a familiar tune, that it presents the images and message as a makebelieve memory of a jolly uncle on whose knee I once sat, as we peeled apples together and sang of Johnny Appleseed, perhaps, and of a world united by the glory of apples.
ODE TO THE APPLE
Here’s to you, Apple,
I want to
by filling my mouth
with your name,
by eating you.
You are always
more refreshing than anything
the fruits of the Earth
are when compared to you:
grapes in their cells,
bony plums, figs
in their underwater world.
You are pure pomade,
When we bite into
your round innocence,
for an instant, we also return
to the fresh moment of a living thing’s creation,
and in essence, we contain a chunk of apple.
abundance, your family
I want a city,
the Mississippi river rolling
and along its banks,
I want to see
of the entire world,
enjoying the simplest act on Earth:
eating an apple.
Mrs. Bread and I thought we might sit on her deck and chat… or, we might meet at the beach and walk. But in the end, she came to my garden in the afternoon, and brought me two perfect Fuji apples just picked from her tree.
She didn’t know I had baked an apple cake for us to eat with our tea, at the table in the back corner. Last week it would have been too hot there at that time of day, but today was mild. I had chopped Rome Beauty apples into the cake, because I think the Northern Spy keep a little better, so I will use the Romes up first. They are in the box at the bottom of the picture.
The whole of autumn so far has been the most appley of my life. I have dehydrated dozens of apples and eaten as many fresh and crisp out of hand. Last week two kind man-friends from church came over to help me peel Pippins for a couple of hours — after I gave them dinner and apple crisp, because it was that time of day — and when I had got about a gallon of applesauce into the fridge, I went to bed very late.
Now my freezer and pantry (My pantry is steel shelves in the garage.) are stocked up with sauce, dried apples, and leftover cake. I sent a wedge of cake home to Mr. Bread, and now must abstain for a bit, so I’ll be ready to test the other apple cake recipes that Mrs. Bread is going to send me. Below, you can also see the super-dehydrated banana slices in jars; they are addictive crunchy banana “candy.”
The Winter Banana apples I determined were best in their dried form. I probably don’t need to keep them in the freezer, but it looks appropriate to their name, doesn’t it?
My favorite apple ranch only has one more variety coming in this fall: Pink Lady. I might go back and get some of those — but maybe not 20 pounds — because I think they might dry nicely.
What else made today appley? This: Several weeks ago I had admired Mrs. Bread’s mint plant that was at the end of its flowering. She promised to give me a cutting, but I had forgotten. Today she surprised me with it, and it is an Apple Mint.
I wish you could smell how yummy it is!
As I was assembling my appley post this evening, what came into view on my computer but a picture from Pippin (Ha! It’s even the right nickname for today.) of Ivy who was evidently inspired by their harvest to read to her apples. I don’t know what variety they are, but their names I’m pretty sure are Appley, Dapply, and … I confess I don’t know the real names of the friends in the picture.
I hope that this fall finds you with plenty of appley friends and cakes.
Appley Dapply has little sharp eyes, And Appley Dapply is so fond of pies.
Oh! I haven’t made a pie yet! I bet Northern Spy are good for that…
Another “wildfire season,” another unexpected blessing. Often when there is hardship, stress, or suffering, there is an opportunity for people to come together in new ways, helping each other to navigate the interruptions and obstacles, to weather the storm, to walk the strange path that may present itself. During three of the last four dry, warm and windy autumn seasons of evacuations, I have had friends here briefly. Each time they were escaping from a different area and situation. But this fall no one needed me during the first wave of fires, and I was busy with family anyway.
Then, the wind changed, and what had been a fire for some other valley skipped a few miles in a different direction, and local people needed to leave their homes and get out of the way, in case. Two women who are both friends of mine evacuated here for two nights. Juliana has been close to our whole family for at least 40 years, but we hadn’t talked much for quite a while, and it was the greatest joy to have her in the house for what turned into an extended slumber party of chatter, catching up, and thanking God. I had loved her parents as well; they were dear to our children in a multitude of ways, and her presence made me long for them, too. But even that was somehow sweet.
The wind changed again, and they have departed. As soon as they left, I made another apple run, having used up my last box in various ways. This time I got Winter Bananas and Pippins. They say the “Bananas” are a dry variety to start with, and have long been a favorite for dehydrating, so I will surely preserve some of them that way. It took the fruit only a few hours in my garage to fill that space with a warm and harvesty aroma.
Then it was time to head to church for Vigil for our parish feast. I was able to be inside the church last night and this morning. Just splendid. Heaven came down, as always.
This morning when I arrived the sun was rising into the sky in that eerie, smoky way. The wind has started blowing the other direction and our area is in less danger, so I don’t understand why the smoke is so bad today.
At the end of the beautiful, beautiful service we prayed this prayer that has been on our lips many times in the last weeks:
A Prayer in Time of Wildfires
O Lord of all the earth, Who dost touch the mountains, and they smoke; Who dost send thine angels back and forth over the earth as ministers of thy providence and messengers of thy will; and Who dost thyself traverse thy creation on a throne of living creatures, while being thyself everywhere present in heaven, earth, and the lower regions: send now thy swift angels to minister to us who are afflicted by terrible wildfires, which threaten men’s lives and property, and also the lives of beasts and the well-being of the land. Through thy ministers who govern the elements, cause rains to fall to quench these flames. Then by thine angels who command the airs, send a healthful wind to blow, driving away the smog. Through the prayers of thy saints guard human life and well-being, and with thine own Right Hand bless and guide those who fight against this blaze, and preserve all in health from the smoke it sends up. Through Jesus Christ our Lord we beseech thee, O Father of worlds, Who dost reign eternally over all creation, together with Him and thine All-holy Spirit, the Life-giver and Paraclete. Amen.
“I wish you many years — but not for them to be too happy, because happiness in the world isn’t really so healthy. When a man is too happy inthis world, he forgets God and forgets death.”
— Elder Paisios
It is customary in the Orthodox Church to wish people “Many years!” or to sing the whole hymn, “God grant you many years…” (x3 of course) on any happy occasion such as an anniversary or birthday. Three birthdays of my children and grandchildren are coming up this week and next, so the quote is timely.
In the last ten days Soldier’s family and I did not think much about death, we were so happy together. Still, we didn’t forget God for long periods, because we know to Whom to be thankful. The children and their liveliness was the focus of our attention. When fear grips our hearts over what deathliness they will have to encounter in the future, we try to pray….
They departed yesterday, and I don’t know when I’ll see them again. Kate and Tom are in Panama, very securely quarantined there for their jobs, I’m afraid. I see their family on FaceTime. I don’t plan to visit Pearl in Wisconsin in the next months, because I already went there in fall and winter, and would like to experience that part of the country in a different season next time.
Pathfinder is in the middle of smoke; no one would want to go there unnecessarily. It’s kinda smoky where Pippin is, too, but I hope to go next week anyway, to be with Ivy for her birthday; I missed it last year.
Pippin brought her three down last weekend to see their cousins.
The kids gathered around the Lego bin right away.
We went to the beach again,
a different one with lots of marine plants to identify.
The sky was not orange that time.
One of those nights at bedtime Ivy asked me to fasten her nightgown in the back — the one I originally made for Aunt Kate decades ago — but only one of the three buttons could reach its buttonhole. Next morning we agreed that I would sew her a new nightgown, and we sat browsing flannel prints at my desktop; she started with the idea of a pink flowered nightie, but when she saw the cats, she changed her mind. I ordered the cat fabric.
“The Socialist saw plainly the rights of the Society; the Anarchist saw the rights of the Individual. How therefore were these to be reconciled? The Church stepped in at that crucial point and answered, By the Family—whether domestic or Religious. For in the Family you have both claims recognized: there is authority and yet there is liberty. For the union of the Family lies in Love; and Love is the only reconciliation of authority and liberty.” — Robert Hugh Benson
Liam found a California Sister butterfly (some might know it as “Arizona Sister”!) and when Ivy said, “Can I have it?” he let it crawl onto her hand.
“One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the marketplace. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happytoo, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to.”
— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Also while six grandchildren were on the premises, four of them helped Soldier to stack a cord of oak firewood. I had on hand children’s gloves for such a time as this. Even four-year-old Brodie was a willing worker who did not tire easily; he lugged logs for quite a while before he even interrupted his flow to put shoes on.
My son shopped all over town with me, considering which wood stove I should buy to replace my current one that is dying. It was so helpful to have help in choosing such a big item. It’s scheduled to be installed before winter.
“The family is the test of freedom;
because the family is the only thing that the free man makes
for himself and by himself.”
— G.K. Chesterton
Recently I got the bright idea to do as my grandfather had done when I was in my teens: Once when we were visiting him he told us four children, of whom I was the oldest, that we might take home and keep any four books from his vast shelves. I still own my four books. My own shelves are loaded with titles that I know my grandchildren of various ages would enjoy, but they aren’t ever around long enough to think of perusing the shelves.
So I told them the same this week, Please take as many as four books home with you. Two immediately wanted Socks for Supper.
The younger children who aren’t fluent readers needed some help to choose books that they didn’t already have at home, but in the end everyone took at least one. No one took four, which was interesting; maybe they aren’t developing their grandmother’s book gluttony. Does it surprise you that I just ordered replacements for two of the books they took?
Scout carried off dog stories by Albert Payson Terhune, and a cookbook. Liam took Finn Family Moomintroll, Rockinghorse Secret, and The Five Sisters, which I recently bought but hadn’t read. Laddie settled on The Pig in the Spigot, even though the illustrations are weird, we all agree.
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” -C.S. Lewis
One of the last jobs we worked on together was dehydrating a few of the apples that we’d bought at the farm. I cored them, two boys sliced, and one arranged the slices on the trays. The fruit dried all through the night and the rings were packed into bags to take on their journey home. Good-bye! Good-bye! and Godspeed!
“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye
and put miles between you,
but at the same time you carry them with you
in your heart, your mind, your stomach,
because you do not just live in a world
but a world lives in you.”