Mark vs Cancer

Sunday, August 30, 2009

After Apple Picking

We're up to our ears in apples.

We have two apple trees, and our neighbor has three, and he said that if we picked his apples, we could have them. Well, I'm a sucker for anything free, so I have--rather recklessly-- risked life and limb in climbing to the flimsy upper boughs of the trees to pluck from them the last tantalizing, crimson-blushed green apples. (Where's Waldo in the above photo?)

The kids have been great helpers. Joy is a skinny little tree monkey who can slither onto branches I can't reach, and Grant is my right hand man on the ground. We've all come away scratched and scarred, but we're now enjoying the fruits of our labors. The apples are small and tart, but perfect for baking, and Elizabeth has made apples pies, apple sauce, even apple pizza.

It all reminds me of a favorite Robert Frost poem, After Apple Picking. Like all of his best work, it's full of rustic imagery, subtle symbolism, and whimsical melancholy. It evokes thoughts of hot apple cider, autumn frost, and the irrepressible encroachments of time that fatigue our best intentions.


After Apple Picking
by Robert Frost

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 rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking 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 disappear,
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.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The 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.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Lovely Autumn poem. Evokes the season.