When I was 14-years-old, I got my first non-babysitting job. I worked at Sorter’s Fruit Stand at the corner of Chardon (Rt. 6) and Bishop Roads. (There’s a gas station there now). It was a great job that paid 50 cents an hour. But the job had other “benefits” besides money: I was the only girl who worked there with about seven young men. Granted two of them were my brothers, but the other five were neighborhood boys who sometimes set my little heart aflutter. But this blog isn’t going to be about old boyfriends. It’s going to be about amazing apples.
You see, Mr. Sorter had a big orchard behind his house where he grew lots and lots of apples. In the fall his front lawn
was filled with baskets of apples for sale—all different kinds: McIntosh, Jonathans, Granny Smith, Cortlands, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome, Stayman, and others. If we worked the lawn, we were expected to know not only which apples were which, but also the uses for each apple–whether it was best for cooking or eating or both. Needless to say, I preferred to work in the fruit stand because I could easily tell the difference between a cherry and a plum. But I couldn’t always tell the difference between a McIntosh and a Jonathan.
My work experience at Sorter’s Fruit Stand gave me a greater appreciation of the wide variety of apples. And over the years I learned many other things about apples. Here are a few facts that I find interesting. You might too.
1) All apples trace their origin to the northern slopes of the Tien Shan Mountains, the border between China and Kazakhstan. Even if the apple you are eating is from your own back yard, it has traveled great distances—historically speaking—to get to your mouth.
2) Apple trees must be pruned regularly. Entire branches must be snipped off (ouch!) in order to concentrate the tree’s nutrients into fewer but bigger apples. Apple trees must be cross-pollinated too. Growers rely on bees to do this work for them. (The bees don’t even get paid 50 cents an hour!)
3) If you cut an apple horizontally, you will find a five-pointed star inside. Each ray of the star holds a few seeds. Apple seeds are mildly poisonous. Although they won’t hurt humans, they do deter some birds.
4) Most apple trees are not grown from seeds, because seedling apple trees often differ greatly from their parent tree. Most apple trees are produced by grafting. This way the apple grower knows what kind of apples the tree will produce.
5) Apple trees are prolific. A single tree can produce between 80 and 440 pounds of apples a year! Sometimes the branches of the tree have to be shored up or they will actually break from the weight of all that fruit.
6) The old proverb says, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers. They are also a source of fiber and are cholesterol free.
The next time you eat an apple, I suggest you ponder it. By this I mean that you gaze upon it before you take a bite out of it or slice into
it. Do you know what kind of apple it is? Smell your apple…feel your apple. Gaze at the color of its outer skin. You might want to cut it horizontally to see that five-pointed star and to count the seeds nestled in each ray. As you munch on your apple, notice the coloring, the taste, and the texture of the fruit. And finally, give thanks to our Great Creator for blessing our world with amazing apples!
The song for today is “Everything Is Holy Now” by Peter Mayer. It invites us to broaden and deepen our understanding of what is holy, what is a miracle. If we do, we might be able to say that every apple is holy too, every apple is a miracle!
Did you learn anything new about apples in this reflection? If so, what?
If you took time “to ponder” an apple, I’d be interested in your thoughts and feelings about the experience.
Are there other kinds of fruit that you find “holy”?
Do any words or images from the song touch you today?