Monday, October 22, 2012
Apples in Autumn and Pumpkin Pranks
Before adventuring off to South Africa for two weeks, the filmmaker and I took advantage of a cool and gray day to explore a local apple farm, wander their orchards, and sample their wares. Generally, after Labor Day, these destinations are rampant with small toddlers and frantic parents, but this day was marvelously silent and serene. Unfortunately, despite being quite early in the season, ambitious and zealous pickers preceding us cleaned many of the currently ripe varieties; much of the fruit that was plump and delicious remained in sanctuary, tucked in the highest of the branches, out of our grasp. Thankfully, we were tenacious, and scoured rows far from the entrance, finding and plucking a few specimens for our bounty.
For a few moments there, we both were genuinely concerned that we would fail to find any apples left in the trees that were technically ripe and open, not roped off from the public by the farmers; I was ecstatic to finally pick a piece of fruit, complete with leaves. When apples and other produced are purchased from a large franchise grocery store, they have an almost processed color and sheen to them, sometimes appearing fabricated in some vacuum, rather than a natural, biological extension of the body of a tree, an organ essentially, critical to an ancient cycle of reproduction and destruction. Seeing these apples, fresh, with remnants of their origin, their complete bodies, in a field of wet earth, is a lovely and never tiring reminder of where our sustenance actually comes from. We left with armfuls of Golden Delicious and Cortland apples.
The ground was damp from a recent rain, and scattered across the earth was the carnage from the harvest, apples either dropped or flung or discarded, partially consumed and disintegrating to a sweet brown mush. I was glad I had decided to wear my thick rubber rain boots.
As is customary with a visit to an apple orchard, we also trudged through the pumpkin and gourd patches, turning over the large orange squashes, inspecting them for discoloration or molded imperfections. I wanted to pick up a couple of small pumpkins for display on my kitchen table for the autumn season; there is, honestly, no lazier but still festive way to decorate than to just place pumpkins haphazardly in your home. Picking pumpkins and running amok through the patch is one of those quintessential elementary school field trips; I remember bundling up in a wool sweater, then burning my tongue slightly on hot apple cider, as we rode, bouncing, in a large wagon out to the field. Clearly, years after, I have not abandoned that young childhood mentality, or sense of humor. These are both a bit small, but maybe this year I will actually make something productive with them after the season, or at least toast the seeds. Pumpkin bread, perhaps?
Manic Monday morning soundtrack: "Sheila" Memory Tapes (on repeat)