School is starting next Tuesday. The leaves are turning already. The end of the old year is signaled by the beginning of Autumn.
The trees begin to drop a leaf or two here and there. They look like leftovers that escaped the rake. The black-eyed Susans are turning to dark buttons on their stems They look like the licorice gumdrops. I loved a long time ago. But if many things are going we can take heart that the apples are coming.
Today I'm remembering apples. Green apples when I was nine. Green apples that conveniently grew in Mrs. Carother's back yard. We stole them, of course. Stealing apples was part of playtime in the 1930's.
You found a yard. You saw the apples. You climbed the trees. Gender was not a factor for girls were equally adept at tree climbing. Sometimes, if we could not find a lower limb to begin our climb we would shake the tree. We were told that green apples would make us sick.
Mrs. Carothers was concerned about that so she would chase us out of her small orchard. Actually, all we had to hear was the squeak of her screen door and we would jump down and run. I don't ever remember a hand reaching out to catch a child or anything that was shouted at us. All I remember is the squeak of that screen door.
A year later, it was almost impossible to believe that we lived on a farm where apples were in great supply. The farm we rented had its own orchard of apples we would rather not eat. They weren't green. They were russet. The peel was rough to the tongue.
In the main yard was an apple tree t hat yielded sweet yellow apples my father called "Pippins."
But the bees loved them as much as we did. We learned that the bees meant us no harm as long as we picked an apple they had not already chosen. A bee-less apple was ours for the taking. We never got stung.
Right next door to us, just over the stone wall, was Schmaling's farm and not one, two or even three apple orchards but even more. There were cows and horses and vegetables but mostly there were apples. They didn't mind if we picked up a fallen Macintosh apple and we often did. The sin was in not finishing the apple. But what was the most fascinating was the cider mill.
I would stand and watch the apples go up a conveyor belt and drop into a hopper. Hidden from my view was the juice itself as it was collected. Then the crushed apples would come out of the hopper in rectangles that looked like doormats.
The mats were sometimes fed to the cows. I can't say always because I don't know that. My father told me that when he was a boy they fed apples to cows and made them drunk. But he told me a lot of stories.
We moved again and went back to stealing apples. I don't know whether country kids still do that.
As this Autumn tells me, another year is passing, no apples will be tucked inside my shirt but the sights and sounds of long ago Autumns will be tucked inside my heart.
Keep in touch.
From : http://www.citizen.com/