Sunday, October 26, 2008

the cider heap

This morning I picked our apple trees clean, and then we drove out to our friends' place in Cove for a cider press and potluck gathering. There were a lot of us there and a lot of apples. We all took turns with the work and also around the potluck table which featured home made maple bars deep fried right there on the spot.

It was the kind of sunny fall day that makes you wonder how anyone could possibly live in a more beautiful corner of the earth. The kids ran about like banshees and exhausted themselves on the trampoline. Even our dog, Sammy, managed to win over the host dog, Jasper, a border collie who has in past visits literally taken a piece out of our pup's hide. In short, bliss was the prevailing mood.

The apples were sorted into sweet and tart groups and then pressed in equal measures together. The results were very satisfying to say the least. We brought home a couple of gallons. The press, a home made contraption that has been serving this annual ritual for over a decade had a problem with some bearings that needed to be repacked in grease....that cost us about an hour or so of daylight. When we finally left for home, they were stringing up lights to finish the work in the evening.

A day like this so imprinted by the feel, the shape and heft, the scent, the abundance, and the taste of apples led me several times to recall lines from Frost's poem "After Apple Picking". His persona in this poem is one of the farmer, not the hobbyist, hence his intense and obsessive concern with the harvest and his resigned almost fatalistic acknowledgment of the cider heap. I love this poem though unlike Frost's farmer, my dreams of apple picking are sweet and untroubled affairs.

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
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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I felt autumny the whole time I was reading this post:) What a great day! Love, Erin

7:22 AM  

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