I love apples, the tasty member of the rose family. These McIntosh apples are my favorites.
I grasp your smooth curves eagerly between my trembling fingers. Your skin is so brilliantly green, blushed with bright red.
You minx, how you tease me with your beauty, with the promise of your juicy sweetness. Are you ripe? I hold you to my lips. My teeth bite into your firm white flesh. I taste tartness, yet sugar melts into my mouth. On my tongue I feel you crisp and firm, yet yielding, a dribble of juice on my lips. Piquant perfectly describes how you stimulate my taste buds.
So clearly, I remember the day we first met. It was a warm early autumn day, a little overcast in a New York orchard. Everywhere, the leaves were brilliant, although yours, I must confess, were a little spotty. Leafy Autumn fire is not your glory. No matter. Your abundance overwhelmed me. The pleasure of your flesh enraptured me. I am yours forever. (Catherine L. Sherman)
An ancient apple tree at Anita's old house holds a tree house in its stout limbs, which no longer bear fruit.
The McIntosh apple will always hold a place in my heart and in my fruit bin, when in season… My dear long-time friend Anita, her daughters and their friends took me apple picking in an orchard near her home in Binghamton. Actually, the only picking we did was in the orchard store, but it was fun, anyway. Children laughed on a small ferris wheel. A tang of smoke hung in the cool air. We inhaled the earthy fragrance of wet leaves as we shuffled through the rapidly growing leafy drifts. Pumpkins were piled outside the store. We chose some of those, too. It was early October 1994. I wasn’t there quite at the peak of the brilliant fall colors, but the forest was still a beautiful sight.
Anita and her family lived in an historic white clapboard house near Binghamton, surrounded by massive sugar maples that were tapped every year to make maple syrup. At the back of the yard, an ancient gnarled apple tree embraced a tree house.
The following October my father died. Anita mailed me a box of McIntosh apples and some jugs of maple syrup. She couldn’t have chosen better.
Anita and I can't seem to stay away from apple orchards. Maybe we are really daughters of eve. Here's a small orchard we stopped by in Tasmania. We stopped because I wanted a photograph. We were really in the area to see a waterfall and buy some cheese.
For more about the apple family, click here: Stalking the Placid Apple’s Untamed Kin. This story is about the United States Department of Agriculture’s Plant Genetic Resources Unit, in upstate New York, which is home to the world’s most extensive collection of apple varieties and relatives. Closer to my home in Kansas City, Powell Gardens showcases Missouri’s finest apple varieties in its Apple Celebration Court.
John Keats’ “Ode to an Nightingale” inspired me to write this ode, which technically is not an ode, but does praise and glorify a subject. “Bright Star,” a movie about Keats, was very good. See it!
A scan of my photograph of an area near Binghamton, New York, in October 1994, when the trees are starting to turn. (In the dark ages before digital cameras...)