Archive for October 2011

Apple Time

I love this time of year, apple time.  For a day or two or three, I reminisce of other places in time, simpler places and less complicated times.  It all started over 50 years ago when I watched my grandmother peel apples to make an apple pie. I was spellbound watching the peeling coils fall into a pan, and I never forgot.  Thirty years later, when I was a young mother of three little boys, I wanted to go back.  I didn’t want some of these domestic skills (or in my opinion this art) to be forgotten.  So I asked my mother to gather up the family apple butter recipe and come and visit for a few days.  She brought all the necessary equipment along with the recipe and I learned what made up a bushel and half bushel of apples, became acquainted with a ricer and the manual work associated with it, and finally felt the satisfaction of hearing my jars filled with precious treasure seal with a ping.  The day started early and ended late but has always been the most rewarding job I have ever known.  What started as a novelty idea turned into my own ritual over the next several years – this time of year  – autumn.  I made apple butter/apple jelly gift baskets as Christmas presents (the boys loved both), and somehow this annual ritual eventually turned into fundraisers for church and little league baseball teams – bushels and bushels of apples.  It was, indeed, a great deal of work; and after a decade of this and back at work in the corporate world, I decided I simply no longer had the time – to the dismay of many.  I “mothballed” the ricer my mother had given me.

A couple of years ago, the boys now off in college, I prepared to move into smaller accommodations.  I could not bear to part with my ricer.  In fact, finding it packed away deep in a closet, brought back the desire once again to return to simpler times.  That fall, I made a trip to the apple orchard and secretly made several batches of the family recipe which I distributed that Christmas.  Everyone was thrilled.  Last year, I was consumed writing Reflections.  Some people suggested that I simplify the process, but I could not bring myself to do that.  I would do it the way I was taught or not do it at all.  In many ways, it is therapeutic; and I feel I am honoring my heritage.

A couple of weeks ago, I set out for a day trip to a small rural town’s fall festival.  Main Street was blocked off; entertainers performed on the courthouse steps; craftsmen and women displayed their talents; and, yes, there were apples from a nearby apple orchard.  This time I purchased a modest bushel.  The next weekend, I unpacked my ricer and returned to my roots.  Soon the smell of apples and cinnamon filled the house.  My body experienced a few more aches than it did when I was thirty something.  But as I headed up the stairs to bed that night, I heard the final jar “ping” and somehow the aches didn’t matter.  You know what?  I think I smiled a little more that week.  Perhaps I worked out a bit of stress, and my joy from completing a project the old-fashioned way brought a satisfaction that my laptop couldn’t match.  Yes, I think I’ll just have to keep that old ricer and the wooden grinder too!  Thank you Mammy!

(Addressed in “Reflections” Chapter 6)