Last Saturday I drove two hours to the orchard to fall headfirst into a crate of Honeycrisp apples. Normally, the drive is an hour but due to a few detours, it doubled. But it was completely worth it.
Sadly, the trees were picked pretty clean, according to the reports from others who made the trek up the mountain and down its side a bit to get to the handful of Honecrisp trees at the orchard. But even so, when they told me there were plenty in the crate out front, I handed The Boyfriend the 1/2 bushel sized bag and bent at the hips to dig for apples. And it was glorious.
Many of you are aware that I have this thing for apples. Satsekhem informed me that she had no idea apples had a fandom, until she met me anyway. But as I ran my hands over the red and bright green fruits, I knew a moment of bliss that I only know a few times a year.
Apples are sacred to me, but Honeycrisp most of all. My memories of my childhood are riddled with poor ones: fights, both verbal and physical, with my siblings; lots and lots of yelling; and being sent to my room more times than I can count for even the littlest things. But, come fall, I’m reminded of the happier times. Normally, that stems from driving out to Eckert’s Farm out in Belleville, Illinois, back when we lived in St. Louis. We’d drive out at least once every fall and spend the day at the orchard, picking apples, eating apple cider donuts, and drinking hot cider, if it was cold enough. Sometimes there would be rock candy, too. But always there were apples. I remember when I was big enough, I’d be allowed to use the picking pole – a wire basket atop a tall pole to help pick the apples at the top, to avoid people climbing them and damaging the fragile trees.
But why are Honeycrisp the most sacred? After all, they’re a newer type of apple and definitely weren’t around when I was a young kid. The answer is very simple: they are the most delicious. Crisp, tart, with just enough sweetness, they are the perfect apple to me. And I have a bowl of them here in the living room, fresh from the orchard, just waiting to be devoured.
I remember when my mother first brought them home. Everyone in my family tends to adore everything apples, so when they were bringing out new varieties to the grocery stores a few years ago, she started bringing them home for us to try. A sharp knife, a cleaned apple, and my siblings taking slices of apple from my mother in the kitchen. Jazz, Pink Lady, later Pinata. But when she handed out the golden slices of Honeycrisp, I went mad with delight. After that, she brought home a large bag of them, just for me. My siblings liked them well enough but I was the only one willing to beg for them.
About the middle of August is when the cravings kick in. It’s as if my body knows they’re coming. I start to crave them, to need them, to ache with desire. All over an apple.
And as I drove down the mountain, the first apple of the season in my hand, I knew the glory of Avalon.