Monday, August 25, 2008

Apples and time and place

Apples for me evoke timeless fall in New England as surely as Proust's madeline recalled his childhood.

Fall in New England!

Strange to say of a fruit that originated in Kazakhstan and was foreign here until a few hundred years ago, but to me apples are the essential native New England fruit.

Colonial puritans shunned beer, wine, and spirits, but had no problem with hard cider, and it was in any case easier to grow apples than grain. The historical Johnny Appleseed was born here, in Leominster. (Today, farmers bring apples from Leominster orchards to our farmers' market.) Old orchards bounded by stone walls march up the gentle hills across New England, New York, and Quebec.

Apples ripen in the fall, when New England's rocky ground grudgingly gives up its bounty. Summer's heat and sweat are past, the days are dry and the nights sweet and cool under the stars. The trees dress up. Best time for hiking and biking around here.

And for eating fresh local apples. The apple season spans about a third of the year, during which there are new treats every week.

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