What the doctor ordered
Today, in January, I am holding an apple in my hand. It’s not just any old apple – it’s an apple from our orchard. It’s heavy and cold and smooth. It’s red and yellow and flecked. I can smell its sweet roundness. The world of last summer is trapped here in a capsule, like gold coins in a purse. I can have a taste of summer in the depths of winter.
We have an apple loft and there hide all sorts of apples. Bramley and Ellison, Spartan and Fiesta. There was the bright red, blood red, Discovery apple but you must eat these quickly – their delicious crimson stained flesh only lasts two weeks. Then there was Egremont – a russet with a brownish skin, they last two months. Two months of crispness, then the disappointment of soft flesh.
There was also Greensleeves, but I was too late. I went to pick them, and they had all fallen. There they were, like little green planets, dropped on the grass, from on high.
You must not let the fruit fall like Newton’s apple (did it really hit his head?). If they thump the ground, they bruise and will not last the course. We have no Greensleeves this winter.
Years ago, when we came to this house, there had been apples stored under the bed. Not that the whole apples were there, but their dry remains were. The house had been vacant for some time and the man living here must have loved his apples. How comforted he must have been to know that he could eat an apple any time in the cold winter months. He could reach down and get one, even when he was in bed.
There are stories of this interesting old man, which tell of his visit to the doctor. When he left, he put a beautiful red apple out on the desk as a thank you. I have also heard that long ago; he went to see the prisoners of war, who were working in the fields near here, and he took them bags of his apples.
Nowadays, people buy apples from the supermarket, it is often the only way you can get them. But I wish you could taste the apple I am eating now (I couldn’t resist it). It is crisp and tasty – as if I have just picked it from the tree. It has been in store here for three months.
And what of the Greensleeves which fell to the ground? Well, birds love them and the fieldfares from Scandinavia are a pleasure to watch, keeping others from under the tree, as if they were their very own find.
Then yesterday, I saw a fallen apple near a little field mouse hole. There were teeth marks in it and bites taken out of it. The lucky mouse has its very own larder just outside its front door. He can eat his apple anytime in these cold winter months.
There are no apples under the bed here these days – there is a specially built apple loft for that. Now we have potatoes under the bed, there are trays of them waiting to chit. They will be planted out at the first warmth of spring.