‘February’ is for Apple
Glorious Blue-sky Day!
On a day like this day, one could almost be convinced that spring really is right around the corner. The teapot’s on as always. Hmm…the scent of the apple cinnamon brew is energizing. I hope the combination of tea and sunshine puts a pep in your step today! I’m thrilled that you’re here and have I got a calorie-free Sweet Treat* for you?! I can hardly wait, but more about that later!
First, I’d like you to meet my sweetie-pie ‘Tea Ladies’ – Evangeline and Missy Essie. I first met ‘the ladies’ at the Hallmark Store where they were on sale for a mere $10/each (reduced from $90/each) and originally dressed for Christmas carolling. They came home with me to help promote a fundraising event. They left off their winter coats and donned some cute new accessories appropriate for warmer weather and tea time.
Find yourself a comfy chair and settle in for a bit, won’t you?!
A ROSE IS A ROSE IS AN APPLE?! February is the month of the romantic rose. It is also the month of the ‘Apple’ according to the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers’ Association. I am accepting the challenge to have an apple a day this month (perhaps you’ve seen the TV ads?). I love biting into a crisp, sweet apple. They make a healthy, feel-good snack. I have a silver bowl of shiny red apples sitting on my kitchen counter these past few days and have been making a concerted effort to use them up and not to let any spoil, as some always do. And so I’ve been adding delicious apples to my salads and bakes. I use apples in my green salads, pasta salads and potato salads. I love the crunch factor! (I even use apples in my poultry dressing together with celery, red onion and cranberries – a tasty combination.) And, who doesn’t use apples in their bakes and desserts?! I even add a chopped apple to my Christmas cakes. It helps to make them moist. I have a dandy apple cake recipe to share with you but I’m going to save it for a future visit. I already have so much to share with you today!
‘A’ IS FOR AMAZING Corts, Macs, Gravs, Red Delish, Gala, Empire, Golden Delish, Jona Gold, Spy – these are just some of the varieties (that I can name) of the $50 million plus worth of apples that Nova Scotia exports each year! Did you know that Nova Scotia apples are world famous for their brilliant red colour?! Sunny autumn days and cool nights is apparently the perfect recipe for growing quality apples. Who knew?!
Over the years, I’ve made about five trips to scenic Annapolis Valley where most of Nova Scotia’s apples are grown. I’ve been fortunate to be there in the autumn at apple-picking time and it is a wonderful experience to be in a farmer’s orchard picking apples fresh from the tree! I have happy memories of my apple adventures there with my cousin Christine and her family. The taste of an apple at the very moment it is plucked from the tree branch is perfection. Apple U-picks are like a strawberry U-picks, except the baskets are bigger, a whole lot bigger! Leaving a fallen apple or two on the ground in the orchard to keep any spirits who may be wandering about happy is but one of a bushel of apple superstitions that exist throughout the world.
‘B’ IS FOR BLOSSOM TIME I’ve never had the pleasure of being in the Annapolis Valley (or ‘The Valley’ as locals know it), in late May or early June when there is a fragrant explosion of pink apple blossoms for miles and miles along its winding country roads. I imagine one would have to see this vision and take in ‘The Valley’s’ Apple Blossom Festival in order to truly get the importance of the apple industry there and what it means to Nova Scotians. I have been blessed, though, to witness ‘peach blossom magic’ when travelling through the South of France in early springtime. For miles throughout the meandering French countryside, orchards and orchards of peach trees are enrobed in a flurry of blossoms of all shades of pink, fuchsia, peach and white! Oh, what a magnificent sight! And, I learned then that bloom colours can differ according to the variety of peach tree. It is similarly the case for apple trees!
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE AN APPLE PIE FROM SCRATCH, YOU MUST FIRST START WITH THE UNIVERSE. ˜Carl Sagan
I’ve always lusted after the petite pinky flowers of the apple. There are white and purple blossoms, too, but the pinks are my first love. If you happen to spot blooms of bright purple,
chances are it may be an occasional flowering crabapple used to attract bees to the orchard for pollination. The apple blossom has long been the subject of many a photographer and plenty blooms have been artfully captured by the camera lens. You can almost always find a photo of a spectacular apple bloom in any craft or souvenir shop throughout Nova Scotia.
I imagine a driving tour at apple blossom time in ‘The Valley’ can be a lovely alternative to an autumn leaf-watch tour.
THIS MAY BE THE YEAR THAT I PLANT AN APPLE TREE IN OUR GARDEN, (if I can find a spot)…
‘C’ IS FOR CHINA DID YOU KNOW?! In 1933, the first year of ‘The Valley’s’ now famous Apple Blossom Festival, a rep from the world-renowned Royal Albert China Company of England was requested by festival organizers to create a pattern called “Blossom Time”, in effort to promote the festival and tourism. A design was submitted based on a photo of a bounteous apple orchard farm and the prolific blossoms out in full bloom. Production of the china began soon afterwards. The “Blossom Time China” became extremely popular and more than 75 years later is still in demand. Sadly, the line was discontinued in 2001 and so you can expect to pay a “pretty penny” today for a single piece at auction or in antique shops. Back in the 1980’s, I visited a family owned china shop in Truro (I believe it may have been called Baird’s China and Gift Shop and has since closed its doors). ‘Blossom Time’ china in all its splendour lined the store’s shelves. It was the first time I had ever seen the pattern. I was smitten! I wish now I had never hesitated to purchase a set of this truly beautiful china. It is definitely worthy of heirloom status.
THE ‘CORE’ OF THE INDUSTRY The teensy town of Berwick, nestled in King’s County in the heart of ‘The Valley’, proclaims on its ‘Welcome’ sign to be Nova Scotia’s ‘Apple Capital’. It seems that for many years storage, basket and barrel manufacturing, processing, manufacturing and exporting apples and apple products all happened in Berwick! When new methods of packaging and transportation came along, Berwick’s role in the industry became diminished. The community’s ‘Apple Capital Museum’ tells the story of the significant role the apple industry played in its development and is open to visitors.
HINT: A must-visit place when in Berwick: Wheaton’s Country Store/Cider Press Café/U-Pick-and-Cut Christmas Tree Farm (Christmas trees are another of Nova Scotia’s well-known exports). Your head will be on a swivel as there are bunches of beautiful country items to see and it’s a wonderful spot to stop and enjoy lunch. I imagine there’s a yummy apple dessert on the menu!
Click here to learn more Wheaton’s: http://www.wheatons.ca/about
ONE COOL APPLE Have you ever thought about how we can enjoy apples that are harvested in autumn all year round? Cold storageimmediately after harvesting delays ripening by holding the juicy gems at temperatures cold enough (to 0°C) to slow respiration. The apples become essentially dormant, increasing their life span so we can enjoy a fresh ‘crunch munch’ at any time of the year. If you want a proper scientific explanation, you’ll have to visit:
“ONE BAD APPLE CAN SPOIL THE WHOLE BUNCH, GIRL!” At home, it is recommended we store our apples in the crisper drawer of our refrigerator, or in a plastic bag with ‘breathing holes’ similar to the perforated bags in which our peppers are packaged. I wonder why apples aren’t packaged in these bags, too?! HINT: Remove any apples that are bruised, they’ll cause the rest to quickly spoil!
WHO KNEW?! Apples will rot nearly ten times faster at room temperature than they will in the refrigerator. I guess I’d better put my bowl of apples in the fridge!
HINT: Cortland apples are superb specimens for use in fruit trays. Corts don’t require diluted lemon juice to retard browning. When cut, their flesh stays white! It’s a beautiful thing!
HELLO DOLLY! I saw my first apple doll over 25 years ago on a day trip just minutes south of Halifax to perhaps the most famous fishing village in the world – Peggy’s Cove. (The Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse is actually an emblem of the spirit of Nova Scotia.) Way back then, the popular folk dolls lined the shelves of the village shops (along with ‘schools’ of handcrafted goods inspired by the sea).
The apple doll is a curious little being. No two are alike. The apple is peeled. The face is carved. It is left to dry, sometimes for several weeks. The resultant facial characteristics are unique to each ‘apple person’. The newly formed face is then paired with a dressed doll body. Apple dolls were once intended as toys, but today they amuse us as fun folk art. Click on the link below to learn how to make your own apple doll:
Now that you have an appreciation of how apple dolls are created, I thought I’d share with you this fun news story that appeared on a TV station in the United States. You’ll get a chuckle out of this!
Click on the link below:
COMPARING APPLES AND APPLES There are perhaps almost as many beliefs and superstitions surrounding apples as there are cultures in the world.
We know the apple as a symbol of education and a popular teacher’s gift. (The apple with a bite taken out of it is the universal icon of the Apple computer company.) The apple is also recognized as the symbol of health, probably originally based on an old superstition that apples have magical healing powers. Today, we are keenly aware of the nutrition properties of apples and the anti-oxidants they contain. They boost immunity, help fight disease and slow the aging process. Maybe apples really are magic?!
“AN APPLE A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY.” – Proverb
Apples have long been associated with predictions, mostly about love and relationships. Did you ever as a child twist an apple at its stem while reciting the alphabet?! When the apple is separated from its stem, the last letter recited would be the initial of that special someone – “The apple of (your) eye.” And do you remember
someone peeling an apple to determine how long a person might live?! The longer the unbroken apple peel, the longer the life.* Apple peels, depending on their shape when they landed on the ground after being thrown over one’s shoulder, were also used to predict the initials of a future love! Even dreams about apples were interpreted according to whether the person dreamed of sweet apples or of sour apples! Sharing an apple with someone also had a myriad of meanings.
Many of us as kids have bobbed for apples on Halloween. Did you know that in Scotland, apple-bobbing is commonly called ‘apple-dookin’?! Can’t you just hear the lovely thick accent?! The game there represents the journeys taken by Celtic heroes across oceans in search of the revered magic apple.
America’s Johnny Appleseed, contrary to popular belief, was not a fictional character at all but a real person! His name was John Chapman. He was born in 1774 in Massachusetts. He was known to be a very kind and generous man, an avid conservationist, skilled nurseryman and owned many nurseries. In anticipation of large communities of people arriving to his country, he travelled to various states distributing his young stands of apple trees for very little profit. Okay, who knew that besides my ‘smarty pants’ hubby?!
ONCE UPON A TIME… If you think about it, apples have long made for popular subjects in story-telling. In Irish and Welsh folklore, apple trees in ‘The Otherworld’ seemed to be always heavily laden with magical fruit.
And, of course, there’s the popular European folk tale of William Tell refusing to bow in reverence to an Austrian nobleman’s hat and consequently being forced to shoot an apple off his son’s head as punishment.
In Medieval legends of King Arthur, the Isle of Avalon was famous for its beautiful apples.
In Norse folk stories, apples were attributed to eternal youth – Do you think that the Norse people might have been on to something even back then!
In Greek mythology, apples were considered to be the food of the gods; and an apple even led to a squabble that set the course for the Trojan War. This ‘Coles Notes-like’ version may (or may not) bring to mind a junior highschool literary class:
(An apple had been thrown into a wedding banquet for Achilles’ parents by Eris, the Goddess of Discord, who had not been invited because she was a troublemaker. The apple had inscribed on it “For the fairest”. Paris of Troy was given the task of deciding between three goddesses who had claimed the apple – Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. They all offered Paris bribes: Hera offered him political power; Athena promised him great skill in battle; Aphrodite offered him Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta, considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Guess who won?! Yep, Aphrodite was chosen the most beautiful goddess by Paris! What came to be known as The ‘Apple of Discord’ and Paris’ choice caused a quarrel among the goddesses and set the course for the Trojan War.)
We can’t forget our fairy tales in which apples also have a dark side – the wicked witch poisoned Snow White with one bite of an apple!
In the story of Christianity, it is the apple tree that is the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. After Adam and Eve are given everything under the sun, God tells them there is one thing they can’t do. He tells them they can eat from the thousands of fruit-laden trees in the Garden of Eden with the exception of one – the apple tree! Satan in the form of a serpent first tempted Eve with an apple (not because she really wanted it but because she wanted something she couldn’t have) and, well, you know the rest… The ‘Adam’s Apple’ is supposed to have been caused by a piece of the apple caught in Adam’s throat.
‘THE BIG APPLE’ Before I was given my ‘cancer news’, I had been planning and looking forward to a trip to New York City just before Christmas. It didn’t happen. I’ve always yearned to see the famed holiday window displays and masses of twinkling Christmas lights set against the night skyline… I still plan to go once I am through all of ‘This’. Even the City’s nickname has played a major role in reviving its tourism and is synonymous with New York’s vibrant and diversified cultural and tourist attractions. There’s ‘big life’ in ‘The Big Apple’!
It really is amazing – isn’t it – when you think of all the symbolism behind the apple?!!! Who could imagine that such an unassuming and ‘pure’ product of nature would have so many complex, wonderful and weird superstitions and fables associated with it?! And, finally the apple is given its very own month on the calendar – the month of February.
‘B’RAMBLINGS: The Hollywood movie “The Scarlet Letter” (adapted from the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne), starring Robert Duvall and Demi Moore (as Hester Prymme), was filmed in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The story is set in 17th century New England. Hester arrives from overseas ahead of her husband and begins to make a life for herself in the ‘New World’, expecting her husband to be arriving any day. She gets word that her husband is killed. After developing a romantic relationship with the local pastor, she becomes pregnant. Her husband returns to her. Because she is considered to be an adulterer – even though she thought her husband was dead – she is imprisoned where she gives birth to her child. For the rest of her days, Hester is forced to wear an ‘A’ for adulterer as a punishment for her crime. Hester declares in one scene that her ‘A’ is for Apple…
In the summer of 1994, my husband and I happened to be visiting the village of Shelburne just days before filming of the movie was about to begin! The place was a beehive of activity. Tradespeople and set engineers were swarming all over the Historic Waterfront District. Impressive facades of 17th century buildings had been constructed especially for the film and were being placed in front of the existing shop fronts and businesses that lined the Waterfront’s main street. Some merchants and residents had even agreed to allow their offices and dwellings to be repainted in specific colours required of the filmmakers! The entire town was abuzz with the news that the beautiful Demi had just visited. As far as I know, a portion of the movie set remains in Shelburne and is open to visitors during tourist season.
*SWEET TREAT FOR YOU! – As our visit is coming to a close, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer about the very special surprise that I have for you!
As a child (or perhaps you were older), did you ever watch‘The Andy Griffith’s Show’ (probably on black-and-white TV)?!!!
Scroll on down and click on the YouTube video to watch the episode “Man in A Hurry”. Watch for the symbolism of the apple in the show. HINT: You’ll have to watch it til the end to get the message. NOTE: If the video happens to stop half way through, simply re-click on the episode title in the right column and it will re-start from where it left off.
I’m so glad you came by today, my friends. I really enjoyed our time together and hope that you found the little seeds of apple trivia entertaining. I just know that you’ll enjoy this video! You are ‘The Apple of My Eye’.