Sunday, September 10, 2006


Windfall for most people conjures up images of winning the lottery or some other unexpected money. Our recent windfall was a more literal one. The apple trees, including one more than 50 years old, have decided that this is a great year to set fruit. I think it is their joy in being liberated from the decade of overgrowth. It is tough even for an apple tree to stand up to nettles, so last year Morris broke the enchantment that held the apple trees captive and they are rewarding us with this bounty.

Last year, every few days he would disappear into the jungle of what he called the tennis lawn. he insisted that they had once played tennis on the grass out there but it was so overgrown that I could not imagine any trace of it was left. He cut branches and pulled out weeds and we filled the front loader three times with the remnants. The apple trees were wraiths against the stone walls keeping out the sea winds. I thought we would have to pull them out the following spring.

Spring came and bit by bit the beds along the edges emerged. Lupines, peonies, daisies, solomon's seal, daffodils, red and black currants, and one lone goosberry bush all began to come out from behind the nettles and dock and ragged robin. The apple trees looked like a poodle after a bad hair cut, but they were still alive. They leafed out timidly as if to cover their nakedness and then exploded into an outrageous display of white flowers asserting themselves back into the landscape that had been theirs. The edge of the old cistern was also now visible along the boundary of the tennis lawn as the bones of the garden began to emerge.

And then I forgot about the tennis lawn until Morris took me by the hand one day and showed me the grateful, resplendent apple trees. He filled a tub left over from the vitamins we give the cattle with apples that the wind had sent to the ground, windfall apples. The names of the apples are a treat in themselves: "Beauty of Bath," "Cox's Sweet Orange" and somebody or other's "Superb." Names like race horses and pedigrees about as long. Apple sauce and cider come to my American mind; chutney and apple jelly to Morris and our friends on this side. The good news is we have enough apples for all that and an apple pie, or two, as well. And we haven't even started on the apples still on the tree, still slowly ripening to perfection.

We each took a side of the tub of apples and put them in the back of his car and set out on an absolutely gorgeous Indian summer day. Our friend Angela had asked for apples for chutney, so we headed for Reg and Angela's with the warm sun filling the car with apple aroma.

When we arrived Reg was there, but Angela was out. He had heard nothing of apples or chutney, but always takes things in stride, so he just laughed as we walked into the kitchen with this large black tub of apples. We talked and laughed and had coffee and as often happens, it got to be dinner time and we were still there. Reg and Angela always manage however many people are around their table with grace and good humour. This time Morris joined Reg in the kitchen. Morris took charge of the apples and a Swede (turnip or rutabaga in American English) that had come from one of our fields.

The meal was a triumph of improvisation and good humour, hopefully the first of many to come from the windfall apples.


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