Monday, September 20, 2010


My last winter apple I ate today.
Shapely and stout in their modelled skins
Securely packed in my cellar bins
Two dozen good kinds of apple-spheres lay.

And today I went to my orchard trees
And picked me the first-ripe yellow fruits
That hung far out on the swinging shoots
In summer suns and the wonder-day breeze.

And thereby it was that the two years met
Deep in the heart of the ripe July
When the wheat was shocked and streams were dry; 
And weather of winter stayed with me yet.

For I planted these orchard trees myself
On hillside slopes that belong to me
Where visions are wide and winds are free
That all the round year might come to my shelf.

And there on my shelves the white winter through 
Pippin and Newtown, Rambo and Spy,
Greening and Swaar and Spitzenburg lie
With memories tense of sun and the dew.

They bring the great fields and the fence-rows here,
The ground-bird's nest and the cow-bell's stroke
The tent-worm's web and the night-fire's smoke
And smell of the smartweed through all the year.

They bring me the days when the ground was turned, 
When the trees were pruned and tilled and sprayed, 
When the sprouts were cut and grafts were made, 
When fields were cleaned and the brush-wood piles burned.

And then the full days of the ripe months call
For Jefferis, Dyer and Early Joe
Chenango, Mother, Sweet Bough and Snow
That hold the pith of high summer and fall.

All a-sprightly and tart the crisp flesh breaks
And the juices run cordial and fine
Where the odors and acids combine
And lie in the cells till essence awakes.

I taste of the wilds and the blowing rain
And I taste of the frost and the skies;
Condensed they lie in the apple guise
And then escape and restore me again.

So every day all the old years end
And so every day they begin;
So every day the winds come in
And so every day the twelve-months blend.

L.H. Bailey, Wind & Weather
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why Do We Need So Many Apples?

    About thirty years ago (1892) I compiled an inventory of all the varieties of apple-trees sold in North America, as listed in the ninety-five nurserymen's catalogues that came to my hand. The inventory contains 878 varieties. In the present year, however, perhaps not more than 100 varieties are handled by nurserymen in Eastern United States. Probably the dealer and grower would consider even this small number much too great. The highly developed standardized business of the present day, aiming at quantity-production, naturally reduces the variety of products, whether in manufacturing or horticulture, and aims at uniformity. Under the influence of this leadership, we are losing many of the old products, varieties of apples among the rest.
     Why do we need so many kinds of apples? Because there are so many folks. A person has a right to gratify his legitimate tastes. If he wants twenty or forty kinds of apples for his personal use, running from Early Harvest to Roxbury Russet, he should be accorded the privilege. Some place should be provided where he may obtain trees or scions. There is merit in variety itself. It provides more points of contact with life, and leads away from uniformity and monotony.