Friday, September 23, 2016

Poetry Friday: After Apple-Picking

(Photo courtesy of Free Images)

I didn't get a post done before we left this morning for our field trip at an apple orchard, but "After Apple-Picking" now seems the thing to turn to. A poignant thing, given my chat with the owner of the orchard, a kind and lovely woman who gave every child there today a bag and invited everyone to pick apples from all the varieties of trees she introduced us to. ("Free?" some moms asked. "Yes," said those of us who had been there before, "they always do this. Isn't it wonderful?")

As I was buying additional apples (so much apple crisp, just begging to be made) I asked her if the orchard would stay in the family, if any of her children would take over when she and her husband retired. No, she said, they all had other jobs and no one wanted it. And her husband, she told me, has cancer, and his treatments are so tiring....

I was so saddened by all of that -- the illness of that sweet man from whom I'd just bought the most delicious cider, the loss of the tradition of the orchard, that so many things no longer seem to last for generations. But I was heartened, too, by the kindness and generosity of these people ... the cider they poured for us all, the apple slices they'd prepared and chilled for the children, the leading of tours even when one is sick, and tired, and probably wants nothing more than a drawn shade and a soft, comfortable bed.

One of my favorite things about last year's Cinderella movie from Kenneth Branagh was the highly quotable quote, "Have courage and be kind." Those words came to mind this morning, after apple-picking.

After Apple-Picking*
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.

*in the public domain. 


The Poetry Friday round up is at Reading to the Core


Jane @ said...

What a bittersweet story - such a sweet, kind, generous couple, and hopefully someone will come along eventually and make the orchard their home and keep it thriving into the future.

Violet N. said...

Oh my, what a way to end this week's round-up--so autumn with change in the air in many ways. Thanks for this lovely post and the Robert Frost poem was perfect after reading about your orchard field trip. Enjoy the apples!

Linda Mitchell said...

Such a melancholy celebration....I can hear the sighs of the poet. And, I wonder what the groundhog of the orchard you visited will say someday at retirement? A bittersweet visit to this apple orchard and a wonderful way honoring it. I had this poem picked out for last week. But, my family time in the orchard was so happy, fun and upbeat that it didn't fit. It does with this post. It makes me smile and say a prayer for the orchard master who's battling illness.

jama said...

Autumn wouldn't be complete without reading Frost's poem, a perennial favorite. What a poignant story about the orchard owners. It's heartening to know people can be kind and generous even when they are going through tough times.

Catherine said...

"Have courage and be kind." This good advice will take us far. And I can smell "the scent of apples" in Frost's poem from here. Thank you for sharing!

Tabatha said...

Now I'm all worried about the orchard! That happened near us, but with blueberries, and it ended up becoming a Walmart or somesuch. I hope someone who is lovely turns up to take it over. Best of luck to that couple, and oy, that Frost.

Linda said...

Such a lovely post, Karen. When I owned a day care center, I used to take the children to a nearby family run orchard. Your post reminded me of the elderly couple who were always there to share apples, dumplings, and cider with us. It's so sad to see the end of so many family businesses.

Gail Aldous said...

I love your post and the Robert Frost's poem, Karen. A few weeks back I was fortunate to be able to visit Robert Frost's farm in Vermont. My friend and I sat near his cabin and wrote poems while the apples went "thump, thump" off his trees. We also walked all around his trails. It was beautiful and exciting to walk and to write where Frost had been!