When I pick apples I almost feel like a real, rural western New Yorker. Apples are so much a part of American folklore. New York apples – the Macintoshes, the Empires, the Cortlands, which are hubby’s favourites, can be unbeatable, even in the supermarkets where they polish them up to look artificial. They’re even better at the farmers’ market or roadside stalls but best of all when they come free.
The apple trees buried in the jungle that passes for our garden (I can never bring myself to say “yard” in the American way) like to surprise us. They hide, their white spring blossom spied faintly through the trees. Now you see them, now you don’t. “Are there really any blossoms?” we ask each other each year. To get to them in the autumn, we have to hack through dense tangles of viciously thorny multiflora rose – that scourge of all western New York gardeners - that encircle them like the approach to Sleeping Beauty’s castle and lie in wait, gleefully ensnaring passers-by.
So hubby and I stood under an apple tree wrangling with the apple grabber, which consisted of an extendable pole with a padded basket on the end and prongs to grab the apples. It made for a steep learning curve. In an ideal world, there would be no branches in the way and the biggest and best apples wouldn’t be at the very top of the tree. If we didn’t get the prongs at exactly the right angle, the bigger apples would stay stubbornly put, while the smaller ones rained down, bouncing off our heads.
After filling three huge baskets from just one tree, we had reluctantly to call it a day, leaving the rest for the deer, who are going to be very, very happy. Any hopes that they might gorge themselves on so many fallen apples that they ignore the rhododendrons are probably forlorn ones.
Hubby and I worked tirelessly, peeling, chopping and freezing. I felt like one of the old pioneers, just lacking a bonnet.
“Goodness”, I said, looking at the kitchen clock, “We’ve missed the Presidential debate.”
“Well isn’t that too bad,” said hubby.