Up on Hawthorn Hill by Richard deRosa: Apple picking provides outlet for discussion, reflection

Up on Hawthorn Hill by Richard deRosa
Apple picking provides outlet for discussion, reflection

This year’s apple harvest on the hill was one of the best, despite several trees having taken a year off. In past years we have dried, canned, frozen and made delicious varieties of apple breads, muffins, etc. Actually, my contribution is working the apple peeler and doing a fair amount of the drying.

Sandy is the master baker, freezer, and canner. This year we picked together. I have an extendable apple picker I used with some degree of success. Pretty hard on aging shoulders. Sandy suggested shaking the trees, a system that worked well at canopy level. Etched in memory is Sandy’s comment, on the heels
of our activating her suggestion: “Now, that’s apple pickin’” Finally, 10 sheetrock buckets were filled to the brim. Since we have barely consumed the freezing, canning and baking efforts of the past several years, cider seemed a reasonable approach.

Saturday, I loaded the buckets into the back of the car and headed to a nearby orchard for a 1 p.m. pressing. Never having witnessed the process before, I looked forward to it with youthful enthusiasm. I was not disappointed. The apples are dumped into a water tank where they bob around before being pulled into the presser on a conveyor belt. Watching them bob reminded me of bobbing for apples at the county fair many years ago. Once the apples are pressed, the cider is run through a UV machine to kill off any harmful bacteria before heading to the circular jug filling apparatus. Once filled and capped, the jugs are placed on the floor and washed off.

While watching the containers being filled, a tall, courtly, soft-spoken gentleman walked over, leaned against the wall and made a few comments about the process. Looking at me through those thoughtful sage eyes, he asked me if I thought our country would survive and there needed to be more “honesty.” Not a contentious notion at all, one I heartily agreed with, but I admit my political antennae went up. He said things have gone downhill since the Johnson Administration and if people are used to having things done for them and given to them they have no incentive to work. I chose not to address the Johnson allusion, but did agree in principle to his comment about work and incentive. This put me in a sort of bind because one can agree in principle to such things yet come at it from either side of the ideological divide. Given the disunity that characterizes our collective discourse these days, I did not want to slide down that slope. I wanted to keep it pleasant and respectful.

I have been consistent in all that I have written that despite our differences we need to listen to one another and work hard at understanding and respecting each other.

I started carrying jugs to the car and as I turned towards the loading dock, my friend was carrying jugs to the edge, two in each hand. I thanked him and said, as well as honesty, neighborliness ranked highly as a virtue. He agreed. As he walked away he said, “You know, it’s the adults who mess up the kids. They do not see the differences in one another.” Could not agree more. Regardless of what our political differences may or may not have been, I came away with a lovely interaction with a nice person.

Lesson: make no judgments about people, at least insofar as their essential goodness is concerned. All too often we unfairly judge one another.

Gabby would have been proud, I think.

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