I’ve come to give you fruit from out my orchard,
Of wide report.
I have trees there that bear me many apples.
Of every sort:
Clear, streaked; red and russet; green and golden;
Sour and sweet.
This apple’s from a tree yet unbeholden,
Where two kinds meet, –
So that this side is red without a dapple,
And this side’s hue
Is clear and snowy. It’s a lovely apple.
It is for you.
Within are five black pips as big as peas,
As you will find,
Potent to breed you five great apple trees
Of varying kind:
To breed you wood for fire, leaves for shade,
Apples for sauce.
Oh, this is a good apple for a maid,
It is a cross,
Fine on the finer, so the flesh is tight,
And grained like silk.
Sweet Burning gave the red side, and the white
Is Meadow Milk.
Eat it, and you will taste more than the fruit:
The blossom, too,
The sun, the air, the darkness at the root,
The rain, the dew,
The earth we came to, and the time we flee,
The fire and the breast.
I claim the white part, maiden, that’s for me.
You take the rest.
Today will be applesauce-making day on our farm. The number of windfall apples lying on the ground is exponentially increasing, so I could put off the task no longer. The apple trees in our orchard are primarily antique varieties rarely grown any longer. I selected Spitzenburgs, a favorite apple of Thomas Jefferson, a Baldwin or two, some Newton Pippins, a few Kings, but mostly I picked Dutch Mignons, a russet apple undistinguished in appearance, not at all pretty, and easy to pass by for something more showy.
It took no time at all to fill several large buckets. Sadly, some apples were beyond hope; they lay rotting, half consumed by slugs and other critters. Those I left behind.
The task of washing, peeling and coring organic apples is time consuming. They require a fair amount of preparation: the bruised spots must be cut out, as well as the worm holes and tracks. The apples are cut to the core and sliced into the simmering pot to be stirred and slowly cooked down to sauce. Before long, before my eyes, together they become a pale yellow mash, blending their varied flavors together. However the smooth sweetness of this wonderful sauce is owed to the Dutch Mignon. It is a sublime sauce apple despite its humble unassuming appearance. Used alone, it would lack the “stand out” flavors of the other apple varieties, but as it cooks down, it becomes a foundation allowing the other apples to blend their unique qualities.
So it should be with the fellowship of diverse people. We are bruised, wormy, but salvageable. We are far better together than we are separate. And we are transformed into something far better than how we began.
2 thoughts on “The Diversity of an Orchard”
If we are to survive at all — this IS how it must be.
Thank you, Emily, for reminding us.
I used to help my grandmother fetch apples but never stuck around long enough to learn about all the work that went into the “world’s best applesauce.” So, I’m delighted to finally know. And I must recall something she once said to me, “Even the rotten ones serve a purpose.”