Crisp, crimson gems make fall complete.
Last year, all through the winter, a lone apple hung on its branch, gracing the view outside the window of the church I attend in the little Maine village where I live.
It seemed to be there just for me – a stark but lovely still life composed of a single, deep-red apple posed on its angular branch against the dusty green clapboard of the neighboring house and perfectly framed by the modest square church window.
Somehow its tenacity through wind and snow testified to the enduring sturdiness of the apple, that marvelous creation of core, seeds, and meat wrapped tidily in crisp skin.
My fondness for the apple began in childhood when I lived in a house built on the site of an old apple orchard. In late summer and throughout the fall, we were blessed with a bounty of McIntosh, Gravenstein, and Baldwin apples. I considered us rich beyond words.
Each tree had its own unique features. The “Mac” was excellent for climbing. The Gravenstein had a perfect bough for doing backward and forward somersaults, a daring feat for timid me.
But perhaps the tree that spoke most eloquently to me was the Baldwin. The Baldwin was also the last tree to bear, making its fruit even more highly prized.
Sitting in my room doing my homework in the fall, I would look longingly out the window at the apples that drew down the branches of that tree with their sweet bounty.
My reward for completing an hour’s worth of homework was to go down the stairs and out the back door to retrieve a hard, cidery tasting Baldwin, the quintessence of autumn.