to end up picking more apples than words, especially if I can’t talk my children into doing it for me. It’s not precisely what I think of as a thankless task, and certainly not in the same league as picking up the floor cloths which our dog Gypsy strews about the garden, and which will be carried back out again the very minute I’ve put them down to wipe muddy feet and paws. With apples at least you get to wait a year before repeating the process. And, of course, you end up with something to fill your crumbles and pastry and snack boxes; your belly.
Each autumn I relearn the same lessons: how to be patient and pick carefully so the apples won’t bruise; how to identify those with worm, which need to go into the pare-away basket; how to avoid the wasps, which love to cluster at the first sign of rot; how to appreciate the sour as well as the sweet and tender flesh; and how to stretch just a little further for that one perfect golden fruit, freckled with crimson, which hangs just beyond comfortable reach.
There is even a crabapple tree which is old and sturdy and resistant to disease, whose wild and wilful fruit add a delicious touch to the staid recipes printed in all the cookery books.
I’ve only begun on this season’s crop but am already looking forward with renewed energy and hunger to my notebooks. This year I believe I’ll add an apple to the clutter on my desk. Never underestimate the wisdom of fruit.