Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Sunday, October 11, 2015

After Apple Picking

We always spend this weekend at the farm making applesauce and splitting and hauling in wood for the winter for my parents.  It's a good tradition - three generations are involved, and the weather and leaves are usually beautiful.  This weekend was no exception.

I found myself with two Robert Frost poems running through my head, so in addition to pictures I'm sharing them here. The first one will make obvious sense - it's about exhaustion from the harvest (and about life and death - but that's what all of Frost's poems are about),

After Apple-Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

I have an overactive imagination.  My children will tell you that it annoys them because I often have a What if... scenario running around in my head.  This year, the boy decided that he was going to help my dad and the woodsman with the splitting.  I didn't know that he'd be helping to run the splitter.  When I went to take pictures, I saw his hand perilously close (in my view) to the machinery, and couldn't help having the second poem flying into my head.  The perils of being an English major.

‘Out, Out—’

The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside him in her apron
To tell them ‘Supper.’ At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all spoiled. ‘Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!’
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

Goodness - do you see what my children have to put up with?  Luckily, and because he was safely being taught/observed by his father, the end of my boy's wood helping day was very different.

Anyhow, we are now done with the big harvest projects.  Hooray!  The girl and I have plans to make some apple pies and dumplings for the freezer, the boy and I have sauerkraut and kimchee to make, and I need to continue to bake and mash winter squash, but those are all little projects.  Goodbye canner.  Goodbye jars.  So long to long days of work in the kitchen.  Is it ski season yet?

This photo is actually from two weeks ago, and it's at our house.  But, I found it on my mom's computer and I couldn't resist putting it up.   It's such a good fall picture - blankets in the morning.  

The kittens are growing up.  

We harvested the squash, not the cats.

1 comment:

  1. I see you too have a Squeezo (Victoria) Strainer. Don't they just make apple saucing so much easier? We too did apples this week, only we made cider with friends. I like you am happy to be putting away the last of the harvest, but also thankful to have a cellarfull. Thanks for sharing, especially Robert Frost. Now "I have miles to go before I sleep..."