Sunday, August 31, 2008

Garden Muse Day: September Apples

The Apple Orchard

Come let us watch the sun go down
and walk in twilight through the orchard's green.
Does it not seem as if we had for long
collected, saved and harbored within us
old memories? To find releases and seek
new hopes, remembering half-forgotten joys,
mingled with darkness coming from within,
as we randomly voice our thoughts aloud
wandering beneath these harvest-laden trees
reminiscent of Durer woodcuts, branches
which, bent under the fully ripened fruit,
wait patiently, trying to outlast, to
serve another season's hundred days of toil,
straining, uncomplaining, by not breaking
but succeeding, even though the burden
should at times seem almost past endurance.
Not to falter! Not to be found wanting!

Thus must it be, when willingly you strive
throughout a long and uncomplaining life,
committed to one goal: to give yourself!
And silently to grow and to bear fruit.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

Garden Muse Day is brought to you on the first of each month by Carolyn Gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago. (I'm a little early, but I wanted to post this before Labor Day.)

I had an entirely different poem planned for today, but when I searched for it on a poem site, I found this one instead. Not as full of the images of ripened apples and the coming fall, this poem instead has a wonderful message, I think.

I have two apple trees--not an orchard--which seem to produce an abundance of apples every other year. This year conditions must have been just right, because the branches seem to groan under the weight of all the fruit. I have been waiting to make sure they were completely ripe, but quite a few have already fallen from the tree and have been mashed into unwilling compost by the lawn mower. This week I will pick some, and if they are indeed ripe enough, I'll try to make use of them all. I'm not sure what variety they are--a Jonathan or something akin to it, I think, because they are better cooking apples than "eating" apples. I plan to make a lot of applesauce, but there will be enough for apple cake, apple bread, and my children's favorite--old-fashioned apple crisp. Ymmmm....the smell of cinnamon is already in the air!

More apples . . . but of course these won't be made into applesauce! The flowering crabapple trees have been full of fruit for several weeks. Years ago, my mother used to pick crabapples from a relative's trees and make crabapple jelly. Those crabapples were much bigger than these, but I still can't help but think how much work was put into each jar of that jelly. These fruits instead will provide a banquet for the birds who have already been enjoying the feast.

"A mind always employed is always happy. This is the true secret, the grand recipe, for felicity."
---Thomas Jefferson

"The strongest bond of human sympathy outside the family relation should be one uniting working people of all nations and tongues and kindreds."
--Abraham Lincoln

Have a happy and safe Labor Day!


  1. Beautiful poem, Rose! I love the analogy, and it's so appropriate for Labor Day. Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Joyce. I was going to use a Keats or Frost poem, but I really liked this Rilke poem when I read it. I didn't even think about the Labor Day connection, but it certainly fits that as well, doesn't it?

  3. Hi Rose, I like your quotes at the bottom. Very nice poem too. Bearing fruit... it is what life is all about in so many ways.

    Your apple tree is very pretty. Even though you can't go pick one off and eat it... sounds like you have some very good plans for those cooking apples. I can smell them now...
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

  4. A very good choice for Muse Day Rose. Apples scream fall and quiet days of memories.

  5. What a wonderful choice for Muse Day! And your apple trees look great too. Sure signs of fall.

  6. Hi Rose......I love the poem.....I found it extremely moving......a wonderful start to my Monday morning.....

    I have such an association with apple trees, because of the old girl, I am sure.....Your trees look wonderful and healthy...lovely photographs to, I nearly picked one!!
    I made crab apple jelly a few years ago....lots of work, as you say....mine are now left for the birds......

    Enjoy your Monday....I am taking the parents on their weekly food shop........

  7. Hi, Meems, and thanks. They are a soft apple, so they are good for cooking. I may be knee-deep in applesauce this week!

    Lisa, You are very poetic yourself! Apples definitely make me think of fall.

    Cindy, My husband gave them a severe pruning a couple years ago, so they don't look so attractive right now. But they sure are bearing fruit this year.

    Cheryl, This poem really "spoke" to me; it's one I'm going to remember and re-read again and again.
    My mother made jellies and baked treats out of any fruit she was given--gooseberries, dewberries, boysenberries, even ground cherries. Summer and fall were a time of preserving when I was growing up. She never let anything go to waste!

  8. A fitting post, Rose, and your photos perfect for the poem, a favorite of mine. I can smell those ripening apples falling into your delicious recipes ... yum!

  9. I think the poem just perfect. Your apples are beautiful and I agree, it has been a great year for fruit. Sadly I don't grow any apples. Have some crabapples though. I too used to make crabapple jelly like your mother. Thanks for bringing up memories and sure wish I had some delicious apples! Enjoy yours!

  10. You've got a wonderful harvest of apples there. I would love to grow some here. Apples are cheap here in the fall - my mother and I used to peel, slice and then freeze them uncooked. Then, they were ready to go later in the year for apple pies and apple crisp.

  11. It is lovely! I am cutting and pasting it right now... I wonder how it sounds in german

  12. Beautiful poem Rose, and beautiful apples too! Enjoy them. I started daydreaming about my mom's apple cake reading this post, especially as I read all the things you enjoy making with your apple abundance. I can smell the cinnamon now!

    Hope you're enjoying a wonderful holiday weekend.

  13. Rose,

    Such a perfect poem! Very ripe with imagery, metaphor and meaning! I love these lines " wait patiently, trying to outlast, to serve another season's hundred days of toil,straining, uncomplaining, by not breaking
    but succeeding, even though the burden should at times seem almost past endurance. Not to falter! Not to be found wanting!"

    I hear happy memories at your house!


  14. Your apples look soooooo good! I used to bake a lot of apple crisp when my children were at home. Now my hubby loves it, but with only the 2 of us - we eat it all!
    Thanks for sharing memories of your mom with us. I can imagine all the work she must have done picking, cooking and then preparing the crabapples for jelly. Must have been delicious too!

  15. Wonderful post for GBMD, Rose. Those apples look so delicious !

  16. Joey, Thanks! I don't think my family will get as tired of apple desserts as they did of zucchini treats:)

    Tina, Some years I don't get all the apples before they fall, but I'm going to try to make better use of them this year.

    Amy, I've put apples in the freezer before, too, and will probably do that this year. Frozen apples work pretty well in baked desserts and certainly come in handy in the winter.

    Emmat, I read many of Rilke's poems in the original German--in college. I'm sure I couldn't translate them now! Probably much more beautiful in German.

    Garden girl, I've made lots of apple desserts before, but the one my "kids" always ask for is my mom's apple crisp:)

    Gail, I may have read this poem in college, but didn't remember it. But I do love it--a great message!

    Wendy, Yes, it's harder to cook sometimes for just the two of us, too. I find I eat too much dessert:) My mother spent lots of time in the summer preserving fruits and vegetables for the winter.

    Carolyn Gail, Thanks, and thanks for sponsoring Muse Day. I always find it fun to think of an appropriate poem for the 1st of the month.

  17. The poem was lovely and very appropriate for this time of year. I'm sure I have nvere read any of Rilke's works, but thought it was German)saw the comment) for some reason. What a bountiful crop of apples! I have a couple of apple peelers if you want some help one day. Just put on the coffee and give me a call.

  18. Beckie, I am going to try to let them ripen another week--they're pretty tart yet. I just hope the storms forecast for later this week don't blow them all off the tree! Your offer sounds very tempting--when's a good day for you?:)

  19. Hi Rose - what a great poem! Our apple crop's good too this year. I made apple cake using some of the windfalls today - yummy!

  20. I hope this is a good apple year! Last year was such a disappointment. Freshly picked apples taste so much better than ones from the store. I envy your beautiful crop. I'll just have to make a trip to the apple orchard & pick me some.

  21. Hi Rose, your post brought back memories of my grandmother's old apple tree. I helped her make applesauce, apple butter and jelly, apple juice, and apple donuts. Funny how something like a photo of an apple tree will trigger memories.

  22. Let's have the recipe then for apple crisp!

  23. VP, I saw your "Scrumptious" apples--they do look delicious.

    MMD, Apparently this is a good year for apples. We have a nearby orchard that is open to the public where I sometimes get apples. Mine may not be quite as tasty, but they're cheap!

    Marnie, Sometimes we never know what will trigger a memory. You've reminded me of my mother-in-law who also would make the best apple butter. I know my husband would appreciate it if I tried to make some.

  24. Mmmmmmmm-apple butter. I have a recipe somewhere for crockpot apple butter, hum, I wonder where I put it? LOL! That's going to drive me crazy now.


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you, so please leave a comment. I'll try to reply here, but I'll definitely return the visit.