…how do you like them apples?

     There is an old apple tree that resides in the back eastern quadrant of my yard. It has been many years since it’s seen any type of attention and the tree has grown wild and out of control. As with most unpruned trees the majority of the crop is at the top, far out of reach. The winds of September have already shaken a sizeable amount of apples out and the lawn is strewn with the windfall. The delicate scent of apple blooms sweetly in the air as the crop reddens and then fades into the soil. The aroma is accompanied by the low hum of wasps and flies as they treat themselves to the banquet laid out in the grass.

     Apples are one of the oldest known cultivated crops. Apples and the process of cultivating them have changed over the centuries but the basics are still the same. The biggest changes have come in order to maintain specific varieties of apples like Macintoshes, Granny Smiths and Pippins. A line of logic indicates that if you plant a seed, feed and water the plant with a little time and a little pruning the tree will bear fruit. That is true but not true enough for the commercial apple industry.

     As a member of the rose family apples must be pollinated in order to bear fruit. That’s where insects like bees come into the picture. As they move from plant to plant and tree to tree they gather pollen up and leave a little behind. There in lies the trouble. If that small bit of pollen left behind comes from somewhere other than the exact kind of tree it ends up in, it can alter the fruit of the tree. The apple is still a Pippin or a Macintosh but the seed may not be true. Farmers have used this method in the past to breed healthier, hardier breeds of apples but it’s not a quality that lends itself to producing the identical offspring needed for mass production. As a result grafting has become a popular choice for maintaining a consistent genetic line.

     A cutting is taken from an existing tree and grafted onto a sapling. That cutting is then nurtured into a fully productive tree that produces the exact fruit found on the parent tree. The apple industry has chosen to breed apples that look nice and travel well. This is a practice that has reduced the gene pool while creating a safe but bland middle ground in the interest of ease and economics. Little thought has been given to taste, which really is the essence of an apple. Many varieties of apples have been lost, victims of that search for the average safe product. It’s been left to private gardeners to try and preserve both variety and the rich history of the old and/or diverse breeds. Just such a breed may be found in the gnarled tree that rests in the shadows of the hundred year old pines that edge my yard.

     I can’t identify the variety of apple. The fruit is misshapen, rustic and marked by insects but the skin is firm and breaks sharply when breached. The flesh, with just a tinge of gold, has a taste that I’ve never experienced before. There’s a pleasant bite to the sweetness that floods the mouth and fills the senses. If you saw these apples in the store you might pass them by attracted instead to the uniform qualities of a mass-produced product.

     Most people do get caught up in appearances and forget to look at what’s underneath, the essence so to speak.  Diversity and individualism is not a quality encouraged or nurtured in our society. Things that are different are shunned or even feared, being held in little to no regard. The apple in my backyard is not picture perfect but it is still an apple and a delicious one at that. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter that its sun-warmed skin holds a treasure few will ever experience. It doesn’t matter that the aroma that lingers in the air and kisses my skin is a divine breath unimaginable. It only matters that it isn’t pretty and it doesn’t look like its distant cousins.

     As a society, we are bombarded by a model of how we should look and act. There is an image and lifestyle of conformity that is constantly portrayed as the penultimate ideal. Our children are institutionalized by an overloaded educational system where creativity or initiative is discouraged in the interest of ease and economics. We are all told that it is important to look good, fit in and toe the line. As a result diversity seems to be rapidly giving way to a society of mass-produced individuals who "look nice and travel well". Where are our private gardeners? Where are those who are willing to look past the bumps and holes and rust to see the value of originality and distinction? Where are the growers who are willing to put economics and ease aside to honour both tradition and diversity?      

     In my garden there is a tree that grows apples unlike any others I’ve ever seen. The best are at the top of the tree and procuring them is difficult and just a little dangerous. They aren’t clean or pretty and none much resemble their neighbours on the branch. But if you take a risk and make the effort to have one, I promise, you will not be disappointed.  

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15 thoughts on “…how do you like them apples?

  1. Mmmm. Apples , now I want some . My mom\’s orchards are intentionally overrun by the neighboring pigs every year and the benefits are evident more so every year . The orchard is home to 2 dozen trees and you are correct when you say they all taste different . The trees that border the pond are bigger and softer , compared to the higher elevation growths which are a smaller , sweeter tasting creation . The gnarled wood makes for some beautiful turning once you get past the life attempts the limbs make on you . ( Silverfleck is an awesome colour however you have to break it up or the size of the truck is overbearing . )

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  2. Your yard sounds like just the sort of place Id like to spend a barmy summer evening, smelling the smells and drinking in the sunshine. Apart from the wasps of course. Which I hate. but not as much as mosquitos. Sorry Ive been quiet but been in Malta since last thursday, theres an update forthcoming on my space so have a look later :-). Thanks for checking up on me thjough. Take care, Craig xx

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  3. thanks for letting me add you to my list.. and yet another great read today, courtesy of YOU!! i\’m not thrilled about 30, but oh well. i\’ll just refer to myself as 18+12! i\’m sorry about your cats arthritis. mine seem to be fine so far (age 9) but the dog, at 12, it starting to age more rapidly than i thought he would. i guess he should be, somewhere around 80 in human years. i\’ll be lucky myself if i make it that long, a limp would be the least of my worries! interesting how we forget how they grow and change so much faster than we do. life, is simply just too short. have a wonderful day!

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  4. Just a quikie to assure you that I did not delete your comment., I deleted the entire post and re-wrote parts of it. Thank you for the comment you did leave. It was wonderful and I would ask you to leave it again.

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  5. I understand so very well what you are saying…we are so afraid of being seen as different…and afraid of approaching those who are…and I had an apple tree similar to yours…but it grew too close to the house and we had to cut it down…I loved that apple tree…but we had to protect the roof and siding…so it had to go…thank you for your visit today…

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  6. You\’ve given me two things to think about today (geez, that\’s two over my limit!): what WILL my son say about me when he\’s grown? That\’s had me alternately laughing and crying all day.Second: wonderful analogy between fruit and society. In my humble opinion, uniformity and superficial people just suck. My only prerequisite is that my apple not have worms…I just can\’t handle biting in, then seeing only half of a critter burrowed in there, gag.

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  7. ah, I would love to walk amongst your apple orchard and pick up a windfall and munch on it… I can hear the wind in the trees, see the apples way on top of the trees…. and smell the blend of different types of apples… hugs, lottiemae

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  8. @ToadI was picking apples today and I can attest first hand to the dangerous nature of the limbs of apple trees.Geez if they\’re not trying to grab you, they\’re dropping apples and chunks of themselves on unprotected heads. Pigs in the orchard eh? I love ham with my apples, yum.So you like the idea of silverfleck but not in bulk. What about a pthalo blue as an accent. Actually while I\’m thinking about it, that would have been a lot of pink as well-sort of like a big pink eraser on wheels (pause to get the image in your head…wait for it …okay). Were you going for champagne pink all over or was there and accent colour planned? =)@CraigMalta? Sounds very exotic. Hope you had a blast. Isn\’t that where they made all the old 007 movies? I glad you made it home in one piece.L@JulieAh the graceful ager. Good for you. I hope it was positive news at the vets for Bear today (rather yesterday). The aging of our pets does creep up on us. Maybe it\’s because they have fur to hide their wrinkles…that\’s a mixed blessing isn\’t it? Furry face or wrinkles hmmm? lol ;P@ZenI reposted. Hopefully it was close to the original entry. You know as you get up there the memory starts to go… groan…creak…creak ;)( @CherylNothing wrong with a distinct variety. I happen to be one myself. As for being old and out of date, it seems to me there\’s still quite a bit of life left in the batteries. About the worms …well you really should do something about that (just joking ;P).How are things down in the gulf? Has everyone settled back in yet?L@PatThat is too bad about your tree. You\’ve got to do what you\’ve got to do though. I know that I\’ll miss mine when it\’s time for it to go as well.@NeerHaven\’t we met before?@IndigoOnly time will tell what stories our kids will tell. I\’m thinking that I should really start to run wild so my son actually has something completely insane to complain about when he\’s grown and moved out on his own. It\’s a thought that I believe merits further investigation. (If he could read this right now I\’m sure he\’d be scared =D )I do look for worms before I bite but really if you eat any type of processed fruit or vegetable chances are you do eat bugs quite regularly. On the bright side at least it\’s not moving anymore if it\’s been canned or frozen.Yum@Lottie-MaeLottie you\’re welcome to my apple windfall anytime =)

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  9. sounds good, if i give you my address will you mail me an apple pie?? (made from the top of the tree apples of course)what kind of a sick bitch tells their kids the world is gonna end soon?? there should be a law against people like that breeding.

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  10. you know, i think this is really smart. and a gorgeous comparison — apples and people. i am completely guilty of turning away "rough" looking apples and choosing a shiny, well-formed red delicous.this makes me want to go to an apple orchard. patresa

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  11. They made alot of modern films there, particularly water based ones as they have a massive outdoor tank thing on the coast, when you film at a certain angle it looks like wide open ocean. I believe Troy was filmed there as well. And it was nice, i loved it. As for the \’black box\’ thing, I confused you with a bit of techno speak. We call any electronic box of tricks on an aircraft a black box, not THE black box as in the flight data recorder, which are all but indestructable, and they are actually flourescent orange to aid identification. Lesson over I thank you lol. Craig x

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  12. Here\’s an idea, Sister Golden Hair, perhaps you could preserve the little apples whole in a sugar-water bath with a cinnomin stick, and some brandy! I know they do other fruits like oranges that way.L

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  13. @ AimskyIf I could reach those ones at the top I\’d be more than happy to mail you a pie…can you send pie through the mail?In regards to "the end of the world\’. She was born again and really saw this revelation as a positive thing. I don\’t think it ever occurred to her that it would alter her children\’s perception of the world. She had been diagnosed with MS and I think her faith and the thought that there was another world waiting for her where disease did not exist overroad her common sense and empathy. I\’ve fallen out of touch with her but I would be really interested to see how she feels about the whole thing over a decade later.L@PatresaI wish I could declare myself free of guilt but I know that I\’ve formed opinions about people on the basis of their appearance. Often that opinion has to be altered after actually getting to know said person. I think it is a shame that the world we live in puts an emphasis on conformity instead of individualism. I seriously think that everyone would be much happier if they\’d just been encourage to be the best person they could be rather than a carbon copy of some "magazine ideal". @CraigLesson learned but that still doesn\’t explain the "urine interference". Maybe flourescent orange is too eyecatching. If you drive where you look maybe the same logic applies to other things as well? ;PI haven\’t seen Troy. I know it\’s received mixed reviews. I\’ll probably just wait until it\’s on the satellite ( no cable in the boonies).Take Care=) L@LeeSounds like a good idea but for the sheer volume of apples from the smaller of the 2 trees. I\’d have to open my own distillery.HmmmmI\’m still leaning towards dried apple stacks. I might just store what I\’ve got in the mystery room in the basement…really what do you think they were planning? It\’s just odd.By the way I did think D\’s new wheelchair was the bomb and R\’s key was in his bag. Sorry he\’s got a big head and nothing to fill it with,lolL

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  14. I was referred to your space by Indigo, and boy am I glad I stopped by. Your writing style reminds me why I "aspire " to write in the first place. Thanks again

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