Saturday, October 10, 2009

Frost and Apples

After Apple Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still.
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples; I am drowsing off.
I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the water-trough,
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and reappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking; I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall,
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Robert Frost

A frost was expected last night (and it came: 26.4 degrees), so the boys and I scrambled to get everything out of the garden. Thing 1 took care of all the squash and overripe cucumbers, Thing 2 stripped all the beans from the bean vines. And I set about getting all the apples off the last apple tree.

I ran across the above poem after Googling "apples" and "frost" (I wasn't sure if the apples could take any frost, and I'm still not sure), and I laughed at how appropriate it is. I realize that it's been analyzed this way and that, but I truly can see it for what it is: a poem written after carefully picking apples for hours and hours, and rather sick of it, at that.

I brought in 99 POUNDS of apples from the last tree. That was after picking 33 pounds from it already. That's more than I got from all four trees last year together! Thankfully, it's the keeper variety, so they all went into the shed until I've dealt with all the other apples in the house.

So with that, 30 pounds of squash, and 5 pounds of cukes, I have actually SURPASSED my goal of 350 pounds of food! I'm now at 404 pounds with a few carrots and beans yet to weigh. So 237 pounds was apples, but there were still 167 pounds of other fruit and veg. I'm hoping to expand on the "other" and literally "cut back" on the apples next year.

I'm definitely pruning back the apples. The trees were so overloaded, the branches were bending to the ground. We're not allowed to transport apples across county lines here because of the apple maggot. And, of course, all my friends live in another county. So here they stay unless I make goodies out of them. As for the rest, they're either in the garage (squash) or awaiting me to do something with them. I'm going to try The Victory Garden Cookbook's senfgurken recipe for the cukes, since I hate to see them going to waste.

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