This is Marideth Sisco for These Ozarks Hills. Here we are in May already, and the persistence of low temperatures and April showers that have overstayed their welcome have left us with as many complaints as celebrations. All this long pants-short pants stuff is making us cranky.
But on the other hand, hasn’t it been the loveliest spring. Temperatures sometimes seemed bone-freezing, as I and my merry band of warblers discovered when we played an outdoor date last weekend at the Historic Adamson Cabin outside Mt. Vernon. Elderly fingers on instruments on that cold, windy evening got a little stiff at times, as did this elderly voice. But we soldiered on through, and so did the audience, and managed to raise most of the money needed to raise the elderly roof on that cabin. You, too, can make a contribution to that noble effort by contacting the Mt. Vernon Arts Council or the city offices there. It was a great night for us and for the cabin’s future, and we’re grateful for all the donors as well as the tough and loyal audience who stayed with us to the chilly end.
It must be noted, though, that this was not the cold of that nightmare endured a few years back that some still refer to as the “stolen spring.” Then, every tree, bush and vine bearing fruit was killed outright by temperatures that dipped almost into the single digits, and stayed that way until everything, including the very leaves on the trees, was frozen and dead. By contrast, even though it did get a bit uncomfortable at times, this spring has been darn near perfect overall. Neither frozen solid nor too hot and too dry too soon.
The tree fruits seem to have missed the bullet, thank heaven, and since I love them so dearly and spent my childhood picking pounds of them at 3 ¢ a quart, I have high hopes for the strawberries as well.
After the Mt. Vernon concert I drifted down into Arkansas to visit family and enjoy the beautiful Springtime Ozarks on a quiet Sunday morning. On the trip down I chose the prairie side, from Freistatt all the way down to Rogers and on to the War Eagle River before calling it a day. On the return, I swung a little farther east to visit some of the places I once called home. Most of those folks are gone now, and only remnants of memory and random mementos remain – a soapstone vase, letters and photos of days now lost to view. The summer fruit harvest that made for long happy days with relatives.
Alone behind the wheel, one can drift into very long thoughts that sometimes go far afield.
I’d just passed an orchard in bloom and was passing by an old neighborhood, when I saw my all time favorite apple tree right between the side-by-side former homes of my two aunts. They were sisters who loved each other fiercely but who would rather fight than eat, especially if they could get some of the rest of us tangled up in it. My memory flew at once to early summer days fighting off June bugs to get to those tender, pale green early transparent apples called “Lodi”. I’d pick, and my Aunt Neva would pare, quarter, cook and can them into quart after quart of the most heavenly dessert apples the world has known. When I think of Eve in the Garden of Eden, I think of these apples.
Here I’d been driving along, bouncing from memory to memory, but suddenly, in a flash, I became consumed with the desire to find a way to get me some of those irresistible apples. Well, I live 150 miles away, and not one person in the neighborhood was left who was going to call me when they began to ripen. Not only that, but I’m no longer a homeowner, and I can’t just pop a juvenile tree in the ground and have my own, for it might take years. Lost in thought, I passed up the cemetery, the cousin’s house where I’d thought I might stop, and was far on the east side of Springfield when I had a solution. I’d find some means to cadge some dwarfing rootstock at the MSU fruit experiment station, or, failing that, I’d find some on line. Then I’d go back and take cuttings from Aunt Neva’s tree. Those Lodis, provided I could live long enough, would be mine. That must be some apple, you may say. It is. My childhood in a single bite. No wonder Eve couldn’t resist.
It’s a metaphor, of course, that apple-a-day way to live on and on. Apples don’t grow true from seed, you see, but only by grafting cuttings onto new rootstock, only by humans agreeing, generation after generation, becoming a link the chain of custody, as we pass down what may be that original apple, the one that caused Eve all that baggage. For me, so long as I perpetuate the flavor, the wonder of that marvelous june apple named Lodi by passing along the desire for it, I may pass, but the apple will live on in the memory of apple lovers for what could be a very long time. Immortality doesn’t really sound all that appealing to me, since we humans just keep getting older. But whoever made that apple gave it a shot by making it irresistible. Having eaten my share of Lodis, I’m confident that Eve would have eventually had to take a bite, even if the snake hadn’t said a word. Apple as metaphor. A thought that is near guaranteed to take you a long way down the road.
This is Marideth Sisco, thinking this is one of the loveliest springs since, well, since God made little green apples.