Apples and autumn are best friends where I come from, and here in Northern Illinois, their deliciousness is celebrated reverently across the prairie heartland where harvested varieties such as Sansa, Blondee, Jonagold, and Cameo mingle with familiar Gala and Courtlands.
I fondly recall past Septembers, chaperoning field trips with my sons’ kindergarten classmates to our local apple orchard. There we enjoyed hayrides and learned to pluck an apple from the tree branch properly (a gentle twist!), observing with wonder how they were so carefully inspected and sorted…some for eating, some to be pressed into cider.
You may be surprised to learn the exotic history of the simple apples we take for granted and devour in autumn. The apple’s origin can be traced to the Tien Shan mountains of Kazakhstan (which borders Russia and China) millions of years ago. While humans have been eating apples for thousands of years, in America, it was settlers at Jamestown in 1607, who began harvesting apples for cider. Apples were bitter and for drinking, not eating…the sweet apples we enjoy in America today were not yet born. (source)
My favorite apple variety to eat is Honeycrisp, and my favorite for baking a yummy crisp? Good ol’ Granny Smiths. If apple pies are your jam, consider Country Living’s 35 delectable apple pie recipes.
Beyond eating apples, I love how apples beautifully lend themselves to fall decor and holiday decor, whether they are massed in a wooden bowl for a vibrant pop of color or partially hollowed to form a votive candle holder. My personal favorite apple craft as a child involved carving a peeled apple into a face and watching it dry up, shrink and shrivel daily…it was maybe one of those odd, psychedelic, flower children, ’70s things!
And here’s the part of the post intending to celebrate the gorgeous fall season of beautiful apples where things take a gentle, tender stream of consciousness turn which may have precious little to do with apples…or everything.
I am navigating a season of personal pain, the variety of which I cannot speak about publicly (always tricky for a writer who desires to preserve relationships, not sever them). A season with problems which are very real, meaning one can’t throw money at them and watch them disappear.
At this very moment, I am contemplating what it means to live within the reality of such pain, wide awake and sober, and to carry all the accompanying paradox and sorrow in my heart with some dignity, with some maturity, and with kindness.
This post got me thinking. What if my present pain, like an exquisite harvest apple, can be pierced to reveal seeds of hope resting inside? What might happen if instead of ignoring the seeds within (it’s easy to go seed-blind, repress, or choose numbed-out, hard cider sleepwalking), I see them, honor them and somehow surrender my spirit to be drenched in the sacred cider of fruitfulness to come?
The waiting is agonizing, yet I am choosing to see the seeds today.
The waiting is only the middle part of the story, right? I don’t want to grow bitter like the apples of early 17th Century Jamestown. I long to find my sweet center of gravity and align with the Source and true Reality who whispers: you are my beloved; the apple of my eye.
If you are the type who prays, will you pray for me? There was a time I felt much too full of ego and pride to request it, but no more…this I know: the prayers of others are always, always, healing. Prayer is the deepest form of relationship, opening a door into a mysterious and lighter realm where the impossible vanishes. The mechanics of it…who can explain them with language?
Maybe prayer works like a loving gardener who tends the seeds planted in the fertile soil of our being, where faith and hope may grow into the shelter of a blossoming apple tree.
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I hope these images of fall apple beauty and bounty nurture your soul in a peaceful, life-giving way and usher you into autumnal grace.
Where is your heart taking you this fall day?
Peace to you right where you are.