Several wild windy days have started shaking apples from our two trees, which is good news for wasps, ants and small rodents, but less so for us. I’ve just started picking now – the Egremont Russets are starting to come away from the twigs fairly easily. This means that the abscission layer is starting to form, and a gentle twist is all that’s needed to gather my prize. The Cox’s Orange Pippins are not quite ready yet, but already starting to blush pink and red.
Looking up into the branches, I can see the lovely golden globes of the russets hanging just out of reach, almost reminiscent of the harvest moon that’s due tomorrow – the weather forecast isn’t that promising so I doubt I’ll see it sailing over the fields this time.
I gather a big bag of fruit, to wrap up in squares of newspaper. (Why are old newspapers so much more interesting than current ones? I’m easily sidetracked by reading snatches of articles as I wrap!) Each apple needs to be checked for soundness, as even a small twig mark or maggot hole will spoil the lot. No earwigs or woodlice either – the pesky things can hide in the smallest crevice to emerge later. I collect a small pile of rejects that’ll go straight into the fruitbowl for immediate consumption – their blemishes more than made up for by the exquisite taste and crispness straight from the tree.
I’m helped by the ever-inquisitive Sid, who needs to check that the box I’ve chosen works, and then to distract me from my task by rubbing round my legs or grabbing my hand with gentle nibbles.
The wrapped apples are arranged in single layers with corrugated card between them, and will eventually be found a cool dry place to store, away from mice and voles. Which reminds me of a story my dear Dad told me of when he was a boy. He and his brothers used to steal stored apples from the attic and eat them in bed, hiding the cores in their stone hot-water bottles. He’s been dead 17 years, and I still miss him!
(I have to thank Brooks Jensen of lenswork.com for the idea for this piece. I was lucky enough to hear an online talk he gave to the Royal Photographic Society entitled Those Who Inspire Me (and Why) – one of his ideas was “Seeing in sixes” – so I thought I’d have a go with this domestic activity.)