I woke at 6:30 and worked until evening, alternating between academic stuff and being absorbed into Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, except for a blissful interlude with my sister and nephew. As the evening dipped into pink and gold, my mother exhorted me to Take a break — sung in the appropriate key — and she, my father and I went out to pick windfall apples from a tree round the bend.
This tree has been so laden I can hardly speak of it: more fruit than bough, almost as much red as green.
My mother and I have been watching it ripen for weeks, stunned by how bursting it is, how red the apples, how early. It’s been a very hot, dry summer. Then, the last few days, we’ve had downpours and strong, high winds, scattering the apples around so thoroughly that I could smell them long before I could see them.
Today was the day to pick them.
There were so many on the ground, and an astonishing number of them were pristine — too many for hungry insects and animals to consume, we supposed.
The light coming through the leaves undid me.
As we gathered apples, Odin and Mika stood guard.
And such a bumper crop they guarded! Buckets and buckets — all windfall, all destined for jams and jellies (with recipes and suggestions very welcome!).
This is an accurate portrait of how I felt — how I still feel, a bit, even having come back into the house, watched the sky darken, heard the crickets come out. Having picked these apples with my family, in this light and warmth, at a time that feels too early for apples, having carried home bushels of them for making into gifts, for preserving pieces of summer to share one jar at a time.