Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Because our global food economy provides us with apples year round, we might forget that fall really is apple season.

The day Akemi and I first visited the Tufts campus in October 2007 happened to be during one of their dining hall “apple weeks.” Every fall, Tufts dining services brings in bushels and bushels filled with heritage varieties from local New England farms. In the midst of this beautiful display they set out bubbling hot caramel sauce and a buffet of every imaginable topping. We conveniently forgot we are a dentist’s family and exercised great restraint in eating only one each. Akemi weighed the college variables for several more months after that visit, but the caramel apples remained a small fun point in favor of Tufts. I hope while she’s back there, she’ll manage the time to go apple-picking herself.

For many years, we enjoyed the apples which Bing’s grandfather Hin grew in his Palo Alto backyard. He also grafted an apple tree of his own concoction in Bing’s parents’ yard which still yields red apples on one side and green apples on the other. One of our landscaping priorities when we moved into this Howard Street house was to plant an “Anna” apple tree, a low-chill variety suited for our climate.

Whereas Gung Gung Hin’s apples are abundant and small, great for applesauce, our apples are few but large. Crisp with good flavor, we savor eating each one. Throughout the summer, I check on the tree now and then to look for the little hard spheres of bright green, and watch them grow and start to deepen in color.

So you might imagine my dismay to see a couple of these prized apples in the courtyard, half-eaten with tell-tale grooves from squirrel teeth. Moreover, this squirrel had the audacity to leave one of them on the armrest of our outdoor bench under the oak tree, as if to rub it in that he likes dining al fresco in the courtyard, too. That does it! Out came the fruit picker. No more apples for these squirrels; they can go back to eating grapefruit.

So on this first day of autumn, I guess I can say I went apple-picking. Today’s heat and humidity did not exactly put me in a fall mood; I could only conjure in my imagination some bracing New England weather and fall foliage scenery. But I have a few nice apples in my refrigerator now, and, as opposed to the squirrels, I might be willing to share them with you. Maybe.

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