Monday, September 27, 2010
This weekend I swept the leaves on my patio for the first time; a light autumnal carpet of reddening maple. As I swept in the apple-cheeked golden afternoon, I was joining a deciduous truth, descending into the earth. It occurred to me that what I was doing was perhaps a form of prayer. For a leaf raker prays by raking, just as a dancer prays by dancing. It was an intimate dialogue. Gathered and given, preparing for the transformation of winter.
I thought about apples; the remembered apples of my childhood. I remember the small orchard at the bottom of our garden in its rosy dream of redolent ripeness where we gathered our first unbruised windfalls. We enjoyed apple pie many Sundays when I was growing up. I can still see my mother garlanded with spiralling curls of apple-peel falling to her aproned lap. I remember the spicy mingling scents of apples and cinnamon, the joy of being allowed to carefully crimp the edges of the pies between thumb and forefingers. Boxes of apples, jars of golden apple sauce glowing like vigil lights in the pantry, their bounty an autumn promise to winter.
All sap and surge and hope, there was an apple tree I liked to watch into winter. After all the leaves had long turned yellow and fallen, and the ground was white with snow, it held on to its bright apples, like red balls on a Christmas tree. This refusal to be harvested, this longing, perhaps gathers in all of us as the autumn season ends. But for now, I savour the amber juices of September, content in knowing that the brooding plenitude of October still beckons.