The apple of our eye
GOING NATURE’S WAY
By Kate Crowley
There is an apple sitting on our dining room table in a place of prominence, almost like a piece of art. This is a very special apple and I am treating it as such. Five years ago I planted six honeycrisp apple trees and one other species (for pollination purposes). I had high hopes for these trees and tried my best to water them and protect them with fences from the voracious deer. They grew, but spring after spring not a blossom was seen. Until this year when low and behold, two of the trees produced about a half dozen blooms between them. I celebrated their pale pink petals and sent out tentative tendrils of hope.
The long, cold spring meant there were few pollinators flying, so not wanting to take any chances that these long awaited flowers would miss out on the necessary transfer of reproductive material, I went out with a small watercolor paintbrush and swept it over the golden stamens. Then I transferred the pollen (or tried to) to another flower, and another. That was it. Later in the summer I went out to look at the two trees to see if anything remotely resembling an apple appeared to be growing, but saw nothing. So it was almost like magic when I went out to the trees last week, to check the fencing and my eye fell upon an apple that was perfect in nearly every way. Not too big, not too small, with a pale yellow and red striping.
Mike was not home to celebrate with me, but I took the prize and placed it on the deck railing in the late afternoon sun and took a photo of it, which I then posted on Facebook. Some people (myself included) post pictures of their grandchildren or their pets or their vegetables, so I felt perfectly justified posting a picture of our apple. Lots of people ‘liked’ what they saw.
It’s crazy really, to be so excited about an apple. But when you stop and think about it, we humans seem to have been obsessed with apples since ancient times. The phrase, “Apple of my eye” comes from the Greeks or Romans and is found in the bible, referring to the apple shape of our pupils, and the preciousness of our eyes, therefore indicating a very precious person. The Anglo-Saxon spelling of the word is “aeppel” and meant both eye and apple.
Scientists have traced the original apples back to Central Asia. Malus sieversii, the wild ancestor is still found there today. Though the bible does not specifically identify the fruit that Eve gave to Adam, nearly every image I have ever seen of this transgression shows her holding out a perfect apple. If that was the case, I guess we can then assume that the Garden of Eden was somewhere around the mountains of Kazahkstan. You might thing that she would have chosen a nice juicy peach or pear, but for the rest of our history, the apple has borne the shame of her sin. It is said that their eyes were opened after eating the fruit. While this is meant in a metaphorical sense, we have since learned that apples do contribute to good health, because of their high soluble fiber content and antioxidants.
We all know “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away” - a variation of the original saying which was: "Eat an apple on going to bed, and you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread." (1866) The apple and the garden of Eden has even found its way into our anatomy. The ‘Adam’s apple’ in our throat is the thyroid cartilage of the larynx and is said to have gotten its name from a piece of the forbidden apple that became lodged in Adam’s throat. This is not written anywhere in the bible, but may have come about from the mistranslation of words from Hebrew to Latin. In truth, this protuberance is much more noticeable in men’s throats than women’s, developing most rapidly in puberty.
There are lots of references in our culture to apples – all the way from ‘upsetting the apple cart’, to ‘rotten apple’, ‘The Big Apple’ and just plain ‘Apple’ – the most recent modern appropriation by Steven Jobs for his revolutionary technology.
But back to the apple sitting on its pedestal on our table. A simple, beautiful creation. One that I am going to share with Mike when he gets home. Maybe with a slice of good cheese. We may not be wiser afterwards, but we will be happy.