The other day, Steve went to the market near his office to buy a few apples. The apples, he reported with dismay, were all from Chile or New Zealand. Why, in New England, in September, would anyone go to the trouble of importing apples from so far away? When our local orchards are chock-full in this record-harvest year?
As we discussed this over breakfast, we worked ourselves into quite a self-righteous lather. We should all eat locally, whenever possible! So much better for the planet! And so much tastier!
And how much more local can you get than your own backyard? In fact, we have two large apple trees in our little backyard, planted perhaps by the Victorians who built the place (or more likely, by the groovy group home that installed itself here in the 60's). Mostly, these apple trees serve the function of crapping all over our garden: they are a major source of debris, shedding diseased leaves pretty much all season long, and providing a home for much-detested squirrels, who feast on the apples and then fling their half-eaten fruit on our heads.
But now the apples are ripe and beckoning most fetchingly from the top of these 40-ish-ft-tall trees. These precious apples, planted by our ancestors! Bearing the sanctity of the hyper-local! They're organic! No fossil fuel miles on these babies! And they are no banal supermarket varieties, no Red Delicious or Granny Smith. They are probably heirlooms!
The ones on the bottom are a little gnarly. But the ones near the top -- they look lovely, all the way up there. Ripe and shapely and gorgeous. So this morning, my younger daughter and I, with appropriate solemnity, undertook the annual harvest ritual:
The best way -- the only way -- to reach the prettiest apples is to grab them with an apple picker from the second-floor bathroom window. And just look at the morning's haul!
Not your supermarket-perfect, blemish-free fruit, of course; but they are ours! So local! So organic! We grew them ourselves! And so I set out to brew this bushel of fresh-from-the garden bounty into the tastiest applesauce on the planet.
Who was it that said "beauty is only skin deep, but ugly cuts all the way to the bone?" (Or perhaps to the core?)
It's a lot of work, as it turns out, to get much edible anything out of these apples, once you cut out all the burrowing creatures. This applesauce was quite an undertaking. When all was said and done and simmered, here was the applesauce yield:
A scant 1 3/4 cups. Factoring in the cost of the labor, at my professional billing rates, that comes out to....let's see....$47.14 per half-cup serving.
On a happier garden note: the five regular readers of this blog* are aware that our summer has been characterized by a struggle with the Evil Forces of Bunny-dom. I am pleased to report that Phase 3 of Operation FYYFB*** has met with great success. The bunnies are actually repelled by the pepper spray. Here is the late-season crop of beans and kale that regrew after pepper-spray treatment, despite the fact that the Evil Bunnies had previously gnawed it down to bare, leafless stalks:
Bunnies notwithstanding, I have been delightedly harvesting late-season beans, a generous pile just about daily:
The reborn bush beans are inspiring, of course; but the real payload is coming from the pole beans, born high up on very tall plants.
Way too high for the bunnies to reach. After all, the bunnies can't levitate.
At least, not yet.
* I just want to say to those five faithful readers that you are my VERY FAVORITE PEOPLE ON THE PLANET, and that I love and adore you and would do anything to make you happy.**
**Especially you, Mom!
***Operation "Fuck You, You Fucking Bunny!"