Monday 16 October 2006

Apple Picking


These lovely days of Indian summer are ideal for collecting the harvest from the 40 or so apple trees in the fields. These trees were planted for cider making and are mostly very old and decrepit, struggling under a burden of mistletoe and neglect.

Without being able to identify the varieties and having no one to ask what was planted we have resorted to giving the trees working code names. Amelie, the first tree named is a yellow fruited sort, early ripening and only pleasant to eat. She’s also had a drastic haircut in the recent past and has only a tiny mop of short branches on her trunk. Beatrice on the other hand has exceeded all expectations. When I tested her a month ago I found her rather ordinary, now she is beautiful. Her branches are laden with delicious crimson fruit with a slight bloom. I picked two large buckets of apples from her today in only an hour. Other trees of note that I have taken fruit from are Katherine, crisp and sweet and Phyllis subtitled the photogenic tree for her glorious crop of golden orange fruit carried on a lollipop shaped tree straight from a story book.

Apple picking isn’t all that easy. The trees are a long way from the house over rough meadow and I have only a step ladder and a wheelbarrow. The stepladder is far too short for reaching 7/8ths of the tree and the wheelbarrow cumbersome in the long grass. Once you have your step ladder positioned securely, not easy on the soft uneven ground there are the obstacles of twigs in your ears and the low sun in your eyes. As you reach for the apples, teetering on three legs of the ladder, you are obstructed by earwigs, snails and drunken hornets. Desperate to reach more apples before having to move the steps, you drag on branches unbalancing yourself even more. Your hands become full of apples and the picking bucket becomes unreachable. As you tug at some small unworthy specimen a perfect ripe example falls from the branch and bruises itself as it bangs its way all down the ladder. Then your hair becomes caught in the branches. It can only be a matter of time before I come crashing to the earth and I’m waiting anxiously for Paul to get here so I can go a little higher and reach a little further secure in the knowledge someone will collect my broken bones when the inevitable happens.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

> I’m waiting anxiously for Paul to get here

As, in fact, is Paul.