Harvest Time on Apple Island

Harvest Time on Apple Island

More and more, I find our lives shifting away from the modern grind of the 9-5, with two weeks off for good behavior, and towards the natural rhythms of the liturgical year and the seasons. Our traditions in ordinary time follow the almanac as much as the church calendar. This can be beautiful, but sometimes challenging, especially in a baby year!

Penelope apple picking

Harvest season in Avalon  gives me a strong sense of connection with the past for two reasons: first for the unrushable waiting as plants bud and blossom and ripen according to their own mysterious pacing, and second for the sudden surge of activity when the time arrives to gather in the bounty, and the little village it takes to handle it. Both remind me that our world is not designed for the regularity of machines, that human activity connected to the earth waxes and wanes with nature.

As the apple trees sagged lower and lower with the weight of their incredible yield, I found myself growing a little giddy with the *wealth* of it all--like Scrooge McDuck diving into piles of gold, (except...you know, with apples instead of money). And when Cider Day finally arrived, I went at the task as eagerly as the children did, balancing as high, stretching as far as I could to pluck the tawny fruits hanging *juuuust* out of reach. It really is a feast for the senses: the colors, the scent, the satisfying weight in the hand--enough to make a hedonist out of the best of us, really.

But as the harvest goes on, and the wheelbarrows grow heavy and the shoulders start to ache from crushing the misshapen fruits destined for cider, the reality of what this abundance means begins to sink in. The price for all this perishable wealth is hour after hour in the kitchen: peeling, coring, trimming, slicing, until the whole world is sticky with juice. It means two weeks of a fruit fly infestation, an afternoon devoted to pasteurizing, and calling on my mother AND my mother in law to help make and can the applesauce--it truly takes a village, and I'm so thankful for mine. 

The harvest has been tucked away now: some fresh fruits wrapped in

newspapers, some dried into apple chips, some in jars lining the shelves, some in jugs in the fridge, and even more as frozen batches of pie filling. The swollen sense of richness has settled into a sincere, but weary, gratitude. For this is how we fulfill the commandment to subdue the earth: taking care that nothing is wasted, pouring ourselves into the work to preserve the harvest. Because this food came to us through a miracle so predictable that we forget to be astonished that a seed could contain a tree that feeds us year after year.  Now, to wonder and to rest...

"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..."
- excerpt from "After Apple-Picking", by Robert Frost
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1 comment

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post, Laurel, and am so happy to have found your blog! Thank you for this warm digital hug. So great to see your family and hear of how you are working / learning / growing with them.

Cynthia Ann Storrs

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