he joys of the apple season bring my taste buds and sense of smell alive. Invariably, tastes and scents bring back thoughts of other times, in this case wonderful times. My brothers, for several years as teenagers, picked apples in the fall. Hardeman Orchard was a big one in Habersham County then in the early 1950’s. They grew Arkansas Blacks, Red and Golden Delicious, Winesaps, Rome Beauties, Jonathans, and McIntosh, as well as more I can’t remember. You could ride anywhere in the county and see orchards on hillsides, trees hanging heavy with red, gold, and wine colored apples.
Stan and Charlie often brought apples home with them at the end of a backbreaking day. I was envious of them because their stories of their days’ work sounded so exciting. But I was too young to carry a bag on my shoulder, climb a ladder, and fill the bag with pecks of apples. I helped make their sack lunches and waited expectantly in the late afternoon to see what kind of apples they brought home.
When the boys passed out the apples, it was like Christmas. Sometimes I couldn’t wait to bite right into my apple; other times I might hoard it until later. We had contests to see who could eat an apple closest to the core (I could eat the whole core excepting the seeds!) and who could peel an apple with no break in the peeling. Daddy bought bushels of apples which Mamma canned after we all helped with peeling, paring, slicing. She also made applesauce, cobblers, and fried apple pies. One year we even dried sliced apples but I think Mamma decided that was more trouble than it was worth.
There aren’t that many apples in Habersham County anymore. The growers became discouraged when spring after spring, their crops were ruined by a late freeze. The hills are planted in pines now, or verdant with green pastures where cattle graze.
But in Ellijay, Georgia, apples are still in abundance. Our son’s family recently went to Ellijay for an Ashley family gathering. Included in their weekend were chances to pick apples, eat fried apple pies, and drink that wonderful apple cider. I’d forgotten the beautiful red-gold cider until William Jr’s text about their weekend. Then I was reminded of some fun family times enhanced by tall glasses of the sweet/tart drink.
We stopped on the way home from North Georgia to buy apples at a fruit stand. I asked where they were from and was glad to know they were from Georgia, though Ellijay instead of Habersham County as of yore. I gleefully picked two or three of several varieties: Galas, Golden and Red Delicious, Arkansas Black, and Rome Beauties. The woman running the stand told us, in reply to our question as to how long she’d been “doing this,” that she had been working with apples since she was twelve years old, working first with her father, now for herself.
The apples are so crisp, sweet, and tasty! I cooked some yesterday and the aroma filled the house. Just the scent was worth it all. But the applesauce, mostly smooth but with tasty little chunks from apples that didn’t cook down as well–oh, it is delicious!
The rest of our apples will be in a bowl ready for the grandchildren when they come. When we moved here to “1010” where we have plenty of counter space, I determined I would always have a bowl of apples and/or bananas, in or out of season, for the children to enjoy. If they don’t like anything I cook they can always eat an apple. We slice them sometimes. Sometimes we cut them crosswise so we can see the star God placed in the middle. The children love applesauce and cobbler. But the very best is simply to eat a whole juicy apple, hear the snap as the first bite comes off, go sit in the swing eating, or wander around looking at butterflies and finally throw the core in the bushes.
All this talk about apples makes me think of that Bible verse that has to do with the language we choose to use. I think Solomon must have liked apples too.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Proverbs 25:11
Enjoy your apples!