The weather so far this September has been quite moderate and what I would personally expect when I consider this time of year. Mildly warm during the day and giving way to a very tangible chill at night, the dizzying haze of unseasonal heatwaves seems, at least for now, a distant memory, however, what the following weeks and October will bring remains yet to be seen. I have, so far, been spending a bit of time in various gardens that I know: my mother’s, animate in lustruous, vibrant and heady greens, adorned with shades of pink, gold and purple and my own, to which my husband and I recently gained access having found a key that made me feel very much like Mary Lennox upon its discovery. I have become acquainted with two apple trees in these gardens, one in each and, both of which have evoked in me great adoration and mystery.
The tree at my mother’s house stands winding and graceful from the ground, leaning over from the neighbour’s garden as if in inquisitive conversation. The fruit is small and fairly round, enrobed in crimson like the ruby jewels of a forbidden fairytale apple tree. The one in our garden is tall and robust, elegant, yet in defiance of being shrouded by the trees in its surrounding: this fruit is brilliantly green, blushed with the whisper of copper and crafted like perfect chartreuse tennis balls draped in the sky. The mystery encircling these trees is that, no matter how enticing and beguiling their yield and beauty, it is nearly impossible to identify what type the fruit may be without being in the presence of an expert or being the one who themselves planted the tree. When I first stumbled upon these two trees, my mind stirred with visions of homemade cider, pastries and pies and seasonal apple-laden treats, but without knowing exactly what variety of fruit lies upon them or, whether or not it is even fit for consumption, my desires to celebrate the bounty from these trees stands to be halted, perhaps in an indefinite way.
In the spirit of recognising these fruits, my husband and I took a palmful along to the most recent farmer’s market in place on the high street near where we live. There, I showed them to not one, but two available produce sellers, one of whom kept a stall specialising in cider and apples from his own orchard. Not only was this endeavour, to indulge a pun, fruitless, but both presented me with such contrasting deductions of which apple varieties they thought they would be that I was left wondering whether they had truly expressed any cultivated knowledge at all and, further from the end of discerning them. To further the disappointment, having shown to both of them a leaf from the apple tree in our garden, I was told by the first man that this would not help in identifying the fruit from the tree which, to somebody who does not herald themselves as an expert by any means, but does know a little about botany, is quite a load of hokey. Taking into account the hundreds and thousands of varieties of apples in England alone, many of which are cross-cultivars from other native and non-native breeds, the trees on which they grow do not bear fruit all year long, giving way to the logic of, perhaps, identifying the tree in order to deduce what type of fruit might be growing upon it, which is not a wild concept to any degree. In spite of my recent efforts, unless I am able to locate an ‘apple day’ near to me, or physically get somebody knowing to take a look at the trees, I remain stumped in my endeavour to enjoy the apples before me and will not know of their wonders outside of enticing visuality as long as their likeness evades me.