Column: It’s the time of year to ask: ‘How ’bout ’dem apples?’
WORTHINGTON — If you say “Apple” and the person listening to you on the phone believes you are talking about computers, you are talking with someone young. Techie.
If you say, “Apple,” and the person listening to you on the phone believes you are talking about fruit, you are talking with someone — well, not techie.
Apple is a gap between generations.
We are well into another apple (fruit) season. The annual apple harvest begins in the late summer. Apples always have been a part of Halloween observances. (Have you ever ducked for apples?) Apples continue, in one form or another, to be part of the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.
You have to say “one form or another” because apples take so many forms. Apple pies. Fried apples. Apple crisps. Baked apples. Apple sauce. Apple butter. Apple jelly. Apple turnovers. Apple pan dowdy.
Apple juice, apple cider. We never did resolve that distinction. There is apple juice; some people have apple juice at breakfast. Generally apple cider is the same as apple juice, although cider may have particles suspended in it. You need to down your cider because it does not have a long shelf life. Sometimes — it depends on who is making definitions — apple juice and apple cider are the same thing.
Apple cider is sometimes a blend, a little of this apple and a little of that apple. People warm apple cider and serve it in mugs with a little cinnamon or a little nutmeg or some cloves.
There was a time — well, before Apples were computers — a time when there were apple trees on most farms and all over every town. Kids swarmed in apple trees. Apple branches are low, and it is easy to get started on an apple tree climb. Kids probably broke more arms falling out of apple trees than they did tipping over on bicycles.
Homegrown apples were — well, most apples were homegrown. People had Wealthys and McIntoshes and Baldwins. “How do you like those apples, Mrs. Baldwin?” Yellow harvest apples were popular. Okabena apples. Lots of crab apples. We had a Whitney crab tree. Whitney crabs are not very big, but they are very good.
Sweet apples and tart apples. When apples still were grown in our backyards we didn’t know much about Delicious apples and we never heard of Honeycrisps.
There were apples in the grass everywhere, often with ants crawling over them. This was a familiar sight. Apples in the grass were windfalls. That’s where we got the word. Windfalls were a prize (if they weren’t too bruised). You could pick up a windfall and started eating; you didn’t have to climb the tree or climb a ladder to get an apple.
Worms were the plague of apples. An old gag went, “I hate it when I bite into an apple and find a worm.” Then someone would say, “What I hate is when you bite into an apple and find half a worm.” Half a worm meant you probably had eaten half.
It seems to me that for a great long time just about everyone thought Eve picked an apple and Adam took a bite. You wondered what kind of apple was growing in Eden. Then, for a great long time, all the priests and pastors were saying Adam and Eve “ate of the forbidden fruit … no one knows if they shared an apple.” I think they did. Eve found an apple without a worm.
Everyone ate lots of apples. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Did you ever peel an apple and have the whole peeling in one piece, without a break? Kids very often ate a ring from an apple’s middle and tossed the rest away.
I don’t remember the full routine, but Grandma and Grandpa used to sit in the living room in the evening and have an apple for a bedtime snack. They probably had a bowl for the apple peelings. It seems to me Grandpa peeled his apple with his jack knife. I know he used the jack knife to cut slices from the apple.
People were eager for new apple recipes.
“How do you make an apple turnover?”
“I just roll the apple down a hill… ”