September 21, 2012

Welcome, autumn!  After one of the hottest summers on record, I am more than happy to pull out my sweaters and my lightweight afghans and settle in by the fire for a nice cup of hot apple cider.  Growing up, we had an amazingly prolific apple tree in our backyard, and fall meant two things---back to school, and time to make applesauce!  Mother toiled night and day, cooking the apples until mushy and then straining them through an old-fashioned colander and into freezer bags.  We feasted on homemade applesauce all winter, and all of us in the family are still partial to Mother's applesauce over anything you can buy in the grocery store.  Remember the funny line in Forrest Gump about shrimp?  "Shrimp is the fruit of the sea.  You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it.  There's, um, shrimp kebabs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried....That's, that's about it."  Well, our 'shrimp' was pie, apple tarts, apple dumplings, apple cake, apple bars, applesauce, apple cider.  And sometimes we could really identify with Robert Frost and his weariness after a day of apple picking..."For I have had too much of apple picking."

Apples at Robert Frost's farm, Derry, New Hampshire, 2011

After Apple-picking

by Robert Frost

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 25
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.

Apple tree on Frost's farm, September 2011

What favorite apple recipes do you enjoy?

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