Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tipton apples

One of my last days with Mary Beth ended with her laughing jubilantly on a hill overlooking an old apple orchard in Tipton, Michigan.

Every year the man who made her happier than life itself sends me a box of apples from his orchard, real apples. Northern spies are my favorites.

The aroma of apples fills our home before we open the box. Bees fertilized the flowers back when the sun was still headed towards the solstice. The bees are dead. The apples scream life.

I do not get what this thing called life is all about, at least not when words do not get in the way. I do know happiness even past the grief, and she did, too. She knew.

What's left of her has seeped into that same hill, her dust mixed with our tears.

Wasn't sure I'd ever enjoy eating apples again.
Not sure they ever tasted better than they do now.

In a culture that fears death so much that we pretend it does not exist, rejoicing in the flavor, the texture, the sound of my teeth crunching into a fruit with its own mixed history may seem morbid, and it is.

I eat the whole apple except the stem. The seeds have an amaretto nuttiness, a sweet reminder of death itself--the amygdylin breaks down into tiny doses of cyanide. A few of my mitochondria seize up every time I eat an apple.

Not enough to kill me, of course, but just enough to remind me that I, too, will return to the ground with the bees and uneaten apples and everything else that has known joy.


John Spencer said...

I thought about your blogs about mortality recently when I was listening to NPR. They talked about the permanence of one's digital identity and the failure of people to forget.

It made me think about the fact that we have gone from working from the companies to becoming the commodity, from being addicted to the image to becoming the images.

doyle said...

Dear John,

I believe that the commandment against graven images reflected true wisdom of an ancient peoples.

Not that I pay attention to wise advice....

John Spencer said...

One of the hardest parts for me is that the "expert" on NPR said that the permanence of information will make people more honest and transparent. Moving to an image based culture might make us so tranparent we lose ourselves - ghosts and poltergeists living forever and never living.

Kate said...

The apples have arrived! I remember how important they are to you and every time I go apple picking I think of you and your sister and I remember to breathe on the trees to share a little carbon with them (and next year's apples).

At the turning of the year (Samhain to my ancient Celtic ancestors) we remember those who have died. Remember to tell the stories. It's those stories that keep body and soul together.

Patrick Higgins said...

You'll appreciate this one:

I am really jonesing a "Higgins Apple" about now.

doyle said...

Dear Kate,

Stories matter more than a lot of us realize--this past summer's trip to Ireland reminded me what I once knew, but forgot.

Fall is a tough time, but apples make it all right.

Happy OĆ­che Shamhna!

Dear Patrick,

Thanks for the link.

On an unrelated note, I'd like to borrow a slide (or two or three) for an in-school workshop this Tuesday--the audience will be 4 or 5 science teachers. (I will, of course, attribute the slides.)

Anonymous said...

I also read John's book and recommend it. I was surprised last year when he was overlooked for an Edublog nomination. I like his work. Its good stuff.

-Mr. P (I'm a science teacher who used to work with him. He's a great guy and he told me about your blog last year. I'll post anon cuz I don't blog myself)