Apples: Part II

Day 143 of 365

photo credit: Robson Melo, Unsplash

In a round about way, apples changed my life–made it better–well, helped me make it better. It was Michael Pollan’s chapter on the apple, “Desire: Sweetness / Plant: The Apple” that made me fall in love both with apples and Michael Pollan’s writing. I had always been a fan the apple. I even tried to like the poor Red Delicious growing up. But, after reading that chapter, I developed a deep respect and love for the apple.

I also started reading anything and everything that Michael Pollan wrote. Through his work, I learned a lot about our food system that I had not fully understood before. I really wanted to start eating “real food,” and that led to Ron and I starting a garden and getting chickens. We wanted to be able to grow the best, healthiest food possible, and we wanted our children to eat very well. When I went and picked up the chickens from the post office and met those little girls, I was a changed human. I have never looked back, and thankfully, Ron is truly a master gardener.

We eat well. We live fairly frugally. We work hard to live sustainably. In a way, it all started with the apple.

Today, apples symbolize all that is good to me. They symbolize a change in my life. The symbolize my move to Maine, where apples, especially heirloom apples (which are just another level of magnificent to me) are grown so abundantly. They symbolize the harvest season and the comforts of things like apple pie, apple muffins, and apple cider. I never had hot apple cider until I moved to Maine. No wonder I love Maine.

It’s really a miracle I love apples so much. I do remember loving them as a small child. We were poorer growing up and didn’t usually have fresh fruits in our home, but my mom bought a bag of apples one time when I must have been about 7 or 8. She told me not to eat too many apples while she was at work. I ate too many apples. She scolded me when she found out and told me not to eat any more apples. But that evening was Friday night, which meant it was my weekend to spend at my dad’s house. Sometimes, though I do not know why, we would go stay at my step-mom’s parents’ house instead. That was the best ever! They were so kind and like my grandparents. They were very nurturing humans; plus they had a pool! Have I mentioned I grew up in Texas? Anyway, my mom told my step grandmother, “Nana” to me, to not let me eat any more apples that day, that I would be sick.

I resented my mom for this, as I wanted more apples. And my Nana was a softie. When we got to her house, I asked her for another apple. She had these beautiful green apples on her counter. She relented, and I ate the apple with great satisfaction. A little while later, as I was so sick that I threw up in poor Nana’s bathroom. I remember thinking about my mom: How did she know? I couldn’t eat green apples for nearly ten years, and it took me about a year before I could eat the red ones again. Still, they were apples, so they eventually won me back.

I also grew up in a religion where the apple was forbidden. Ironically, as I mentioned in my Apples: Part I post, in the Biblical story, Eve just ate some random fruit until Milton made it into an apple in his epic poem. But I was always hearing about how terrible Eve was, eating that darn apple, so apples were associated with women being bad in my understanding of my religion as a child. What a tragedy. Of course, I have to tell you, that, even though I was a people pleaser when I was a kid, there was a part of me that always loved that apple because it represented the knowledge Eve was after. On more than one occasion, my questions in Sunday school led to church leaders having an “intervention” to “save my soul.” Clearly, I was asking some great questions and must have had some kind of understanding of Eve just needing to eat that apple to get that knowledge.

Thankfully, as an adult, I have learned that many other religions and cultural traditions treasure the apple like I do. In Norse mythology, there is a goddess who is the keeper of a box of apples that are eaten by the gods to give them youth when they start to grow old. How fantastic is this story? The Romans associated apples with Venus, the goddess of love. My son and I have been learning about Jewish holidays and just learned about Rosh Hashanah and the tradition of eating apples dipped in honey to symbolize hope for a sweet new year. Apples and honey seems like the most magnificent tradition to me.

This weekend, we are finally going to have time to head to the apple orchard, and I am so thankful for this. We have had a tough few weeks as a little family. A trip to the apple orchard is exactly what we need, and I know my heart will be joyful.

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