August 21, 2015

Friday Photos: Apples

Summerlike days have finally arrived just as the season itself departs, with temperatures at home almost reaching 80 as days become noticeably shorter and trees are full of ripe apples. It is good cycling weather.

Wild apples mark the roadsides of New England. Planted by early colonists, they have become feral, and in good apple years like this one the trees are so covered it seems they bear more fruit than leaf. Those lining my roads are old, their cracked bark witness to many years.

The roads I ride on are often lined with these old trees, fallen fruit below them. This photo, of a laden tree on a local road, also marks how little importance cycling has in this culture. Not only is there no shoulder, but the edge of the newly paved road is a sharp drop of 4 or 5 inches. Definitely not bike friendly, though every cyclist who lives nearby needs to use it.

Thirty years or so ago, as soon as we roofed the newly built house, we planted eight varieties of historic apples, with names like Westfield Seek no Further, Sops of Wine and Sheepnose. Unfortunately, we knew nothing about how to grow apples, and only one remains, the Sheepnose. Over the years, we have planted a few more, but like road apples, they are untended.

Some, smooth-skinned and shiny, are sweeter. Others, marked by leathery skin, are mouth-puckering with tannin. Almost all are gnarled, small and pocked, never as sweet as cultivated fruit. Yet mixed together they will make excellent apple butter and apple sauce, projects for some upcoming weekend.

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