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The art of apple picking

— Regardless of the source, when the indicators are right, we begin picking. And picking, and picking, and picking again. Many varieties of apples need two pickings because not all the fruit on the tree ripens at once. The tops and sides ripen first, then the apples in toward the trunk, under the shade canopy that keeps the sun from hurrying them along. It’s tiring and rewarding work.

Robert Frost described it in his poem “After Apple Picking.” He said, “My instep arch not only keeps the ache/ It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.” He was a full-time writer living on a small farm he kept mostly by himself. He knew what it was like to pick all those apples: “I am overtired /Of the great harvest I myself desired. / There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch / Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.”

Cold nights will snap the color into the apples. Their bright blush will suddenly stand out from the greenery of the rows, like bulbs on a Christmas tree. We’ll be glad for the abundance of apples and ridiculously exhausted from picking it. After a few weeks of non-stop huffing and lugging, suddenly the harvest is over. The bees will finish collecting their due and retreat to their hives for the winter.

Karen Abbott is a published author and the mother of four girls, raised at Abbott Farms in Baldwinsville. She enjoys quilting, teaching and home economics.

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