Problems with apples
There are a few authors whose every book I have or will read. Among them are Lawrence Durrell, Dylan Thomas, Ian McEwan and Simon Morden (I’ll leave you to check that last one out, but it’s the quality of his storytelling, particularly in the Metrozone trilogy).
Sebastian Faulks used to be on the list, but for me he went off the boil after Human Traces. However, top of them all is Roger Deakin, who sadly was taken from this life far too early. The key point about all these authors is the unwavering quality of writing and narrative. On top of those Deakin’s books are lyrical, joyful and entertainingly informative.
His first book, Waterlog, A Swimmers Journey through Britain, was published in 1999. It’s about wild water swimming in this country, obviously long before it became the big thing it is today. He also wrote Wildwood, A Journey Through Trees. It is an astonishing trip through Europe, including searching for the root beginnings of apple trees in Kazakhstan.
Apple trees are incredibly resilient. We have two in our garden; one that is big, gnarled, the bark deeply grooved. It produces hundreds of apples every year. Isaac Newton would not relish sitting under our tree just now. It is shedding fruit at a rate that would see health and safety calling for the use of hard hats anywhere near its vicinity.
And every year we face the same problem. What do we do with them? You can only eat so many, only put so many in a crate outside the front door. The rest fall and turn into mush as autumn marches towards winter. We have tried juicing them, drying them, freezing them for apple and blackberry pie. But it barely scratches the surface of the crop.
Still, on the bright side, as with most poets, I always have a sixth sense quietly looking for prompts to write. This one arrived as I surveyed the war zone of fruit in the garden, and a poem written by August Kleinzahler in his excellent collection, Sleeping It Off In Rapid City was another trigger.
Meantime if you have any ideas what to do with a ton of apples – do let me know!
Apples in October after August Kleinzahler
Near the end they glow, infused with autumn gold and under this ingot weight they are too much for leafless branches to bear.
But unlike your peaches, I cannot hear the muffled thudding as they bomb earth at irregular intervals. I do not lie in bed, tense
waiting for the next impact.
Instead come morning I go down to the garden and see
bruised suns strewn through flower beds, floating in a small pond, lying on bark paths. Those final surrenders in a war of seasons.
Born in North Wales, poet & writer Paul Mortimer has lived in Tiverton for 13 years. His first poetry collection, Fault Line, was published by Lapwing in 2015, followed by Wind Voices from the same publishing house in 2019. He has appeared at numerous literary festivals and headlined at poetry events in recent years.