Of early New England apples.


by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. It was once commonly remarked that an apple a day kept the doctor away. Nowadays arduous Medicare regulations perform the same task with distressing results for the body politic. With this observation, I therefore pledge myself to the tried ways and true, though I am not averse to a little progress, so long as it is easily accomplished and does not make me take exercise or appear antediluvian, behind the times, a living, breathing artifact.

Thus in this article you will find things that are actually good for you and readily available; things that are not so expensive that budgets are busted; things that run you happily down memory lane; things that, once mastered, turn even the most pedestrian and uninspired cook into le cordon bleu, the very gratin.

What am I talking about with such certainty? Just this: malus domestica, the pomaceous fruit we call the apple and which is arguably the world’s favorite fruit with over 7,500 known cultivars, each distinctive, each catering to the finicky tastes of our never-quite-ever-satisfied species. Looking for all these different kinds of apples immediately takes one back to tableaux by Currier and Ives, its every stage shear beauty and soul-satisfying, seen at an ambling pace that refreshes, not fatigues. Apples, you see, are not just a fruit; they are a statement about what makes life worth living, and they are happy to share their insights from ages past with us humans who abide so short and contemplate so little, passing on even less.

For the musical accompaniment to this happy journey through apple orchards near and far; surely one of the most serene and joyful journeys of your life, I give you John Chapman, known to the world as Johnny Appleseed. He was born in 1774 in Leominster, Massachusetts, not far from where I’m writing you. He commenced his wanderings and civic vocation in 1801 in what was then the Ohio Territory, the planting, care and maintenance of apple trees, each a child to him, known, remembered and loved.

Johnny Appleseed, poet.

He must have had at least a touch of the poet about him, at least his endless peregrinations produced lyric results, from spring flowering trees, to places of verdant summer shade and the cascade of autumn fruit. Yes, he must have been part poet. We see it in the trees he planted and their bounteous harvests, the recurring grandeur of the orchards, the tidy and meticulous acres of the folks who tended them. I tell you, each was a scene it would take a master like Constable to rival.

Lucky John Chapman who in the apple found his metier and a path to helping humans and so assisting God. Walt Disney, who knew a good story when he heard one, turned (in the 1948 film starring Dennis Day as Johnny’s voice) the man and his mission into what Disney did best: an oeuvre at once informative, inspiring, and entertaining. Go now and find it in any search engine. It is a happy tune about a useful man fortunate in his work until the day he passed in 1845, 1847 or 1848; authorities differ as they so often do.

VIP fruit. Red carpet treatment expected.

As the apples themselves will proudly tell you, they have made a lot of people happy, people everywhere on Earth, for the plant travels well and eagerly adapts to its new surroundings. They are used to being welcomed with open arms by the very best people and are never disappointed or underwhelmed by the lassitude of their neighbors. That might be the case with other, lesser fruits. But it is never the case with the apple until…

The case of the apple no apple in God’s garden, the Garden of Eden.

Once upon a time, there was, according to the Book of Genesis, the hugest scandal involving God, Adam and Eve, a serpent and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. There was also an apple on that tree. The action went like this: God created the garden (and everything else). He told Adam and Eve to enjoy themselves but stay away from the Tree and its apple, OR ELSE…

Of course that saucy wench Eve just couldn’t take her eyes off the apple. Women are just that way. The cunning serpent saw to that and against such a combo and constant enticement, poor little Adam was outmaneuvered in no time, bit that apple, and turned as bright red. He confronted at once a very abashed and under dressed Eve, saying “Pookie, we’ve got Big Trouble”… an apt deduction the Big Guy immediately confirmed, recommending they open a joint account at Brooks Brothers for some cool threads and next time listen to Him. He then booted them out of Eden and sent them a list of chores to keep them busy and out of trouble, though in the event that didn’t work either. They were just a bad lot.

The apple did it.

Predictably, the apple got hit from all sides. There were those who thought the apple the responsible party. The apple in turn said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Everyone had an opinion and was adamant that THEY WERE RIGHT. The only thing all agreed upon was this: in the face of this worldwide controversy, sales were falling… and the ironic thing wasn’t that the apple was innocent (or guilty) but that there shouldn’t have been an apple in the story at all. Huh? Back up a mile! What do you mean there’s no apple in Eden?

Well, Bible scholars now agree the “apple” was the result of a misspelling in medieval days when “malus” (which means evil) was mistaken for “malum” (which means apple), and so a couple thousand years of history and millions of page references are wrong, wrong,wrong. Quick. Get me rewrite!

(By the way, now that the apple has been discredited, reputable scholars who just love a good donnybrook like this have suggested the grape, fig, pomegranate, wheat and even the mushroom as the correct answer… all on the very best authority.) Whippee, this will take millennia to work out and that’s a fact! Your guess is as good as anyone’s.

New England, 6 states, one request: come visit us and savor the good life, available in any apple.

In the meantime, apple lovers should come to New England for apples that are really apples… and not dissertation topics. And they should come now because this year’s delectable harvest is in, early… thus defying dire predictions that this year’s early spring followed by a frost meant many fewer apples. But apples like to surprise, and this year they have done just that. The crop will not be a record, but it will be ample for all, and this is good news for you, the better the closer you are to God’s true Eden, an apple orchard, a place where God did some of His best work.

Now go to any search engine and search on “apple orchards” in your state. Plan a little excursion for you and your family, gadding about, having yourself a good old time. And do try to find orchards which allow you to pick the apples yourself. I guarantee that the Honeycrisps, the McLeans, and those ultra flavorful Galas and all the dozens of others will taste all the better for your efforts.

Go now, happy voyager, for every tree is heavy laden for you and the crowding apples have turned the very air sweet with their inimitable perfume. They await your pleasure and all the sumptuous uses which John Chapman’s personal angel sings of to inspire Johnny’s work: apple tarts and apple fritters… apple pies and apple dumplings… and that’s just for openers. Apples, don’t you know, go with most everything, especially happy faces.

And one more thing: when on some warm, enfolding springtime day you see a crowd of clouds above an apple orchard, those aren’t clouds at all. They are the celestial manifestation of all the thousands of apple trees he planted, now blooming forever more high above and heralding us in a torrent of pink and white petals. Johnny did it all for you and me… and though he was funny looking, scrawny, his cooking pot on his head, wrapped in old burlap from a feed store, make no mistake he was a great person, full of goodness and love. God, you’ll remember, moves in mysterious ways, and Johnny Appleseed proves the point. The Lord was good to him… and helps those who help themselves… and each other.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today at http://www.Worldprofit.com