My Apple Tree, My Brightness

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.


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7 Responses to My Apple Tree, My Brightness

  1. Deborah says:

    Light filtering through branches always overcomes me as well, stirring something deep inside. It is one of my absolute favorite things in life.

    That photograph of you at the close is gorgeous – such honeyed light!

    Now I really want some of those apples… you’re very much a Goblin Queen today with your stolen fruits of summer.

  2. Petra says:

    Aaahhh, so lovely. Late afternoon light through leaves has always been my favorite color. And I’ve always wanted an apple tree!

  3. csecooney says:

    I love this so much, Amal.

  4. mattmparker says:

    Wow! Even though I’m awash with peaches, I’m still envious. Once you’re tired of making jams and jellies, a good recipe for getting through the last bucket is slow-cooker apple butter. Core and slice the apples (no need to peel), fill up the slow cooker (or a pot in an oven set to 250F), and let them cook down. After twelve hours, add another round of apples. After another 12 hours, they’ll have turned themselves into a thick, sumptuous, spicy butter. No sugar or spices needed, but maybe add a splash of lemon juice to ensure acidity for canning.

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