By O’Ceallaigh –
We had an orchard behind our house on Maple Grove Road in Bemus Point. There were several apple trees, a pear tree, two peach trees and a couple of cherry trees. By the time we arrived on the farm most of these trees were overgrown with suckers and my Dad was so busy trying to make the farm profitable that he didn’t think there was enough time to care for that old orchard.
In the far corner, that would be the Southeast corner of the orchard, there was one tree that still produced some pretty good apples. From time to time we would walk across the front yard, climb over the “woven wire fence” into the Calf Pasture, our new nomenclature for the orchard, and make our way to the old apple tree. From the fruit of our labor, Mom would make two delicious apple pies.
I can almost taste them now. They were nothing like you buy in the stores, believe me! These were good! No, they were “Scrumptious!! I just had to learn to make them myself! But, I was only 4 or 5 years old at the time. What was I to do? So, I dreamed of the day when I would be able to make my own apple pies.
Back in the mid ‘70’s I used to go hunting deer every fall. The weather always varied in Western New York; sometimes winter came early – sometimes late. But it was usually cool and crisp in the woods. I would walk through pasture land, swamp land and hardwoods trying to scare up the trail of a large Buck. Often there would be signs of deer in various places but the lithe, great antlered critters were difficult to find. I learned to search out various apple trees on my treks through the woods because deer like apples.
With all that walking, it seems I was always hungry. I would think about the lunch I was carrying but, one does not want to eat his only lunch at 9:00 in the morning! He might starve before noon!
So, I would resort to an apple or two from one of the many wild trees I encountered. Most of them were yellow pie apples, knobby and stung and the tell-tale “sawdust” emanating from a small hole giving me the assurance of a worm somewhere on the interior of the apple. But, not to worry! He would always leave enough of the apple to share with his two legged friends.
My favorite was the wild Northern Spy. They were tart and made my jaw cramp up when I would take my first bite into that cold, crisp fruit. It would always make me think of the Snow Apple Tree.
The Snow Apple Tree was on our farm too, but it was a wild tree, well on the way to the twenty-nine and a half acre pasture. Mom, my sister and I would leave the house, cross the 10 acre field, walk down the “Dugway” and across the creek. Just a few more steps and we would pass by the Ravine Spring. After a quick drink from the spring, we would climb the knoll, walk through the “Poplar Grove” and descend the gradual hill on the road leading past the Snow Apple Tree.
Yes, they were called “Snow Apples. And, they were delicious. Better than the ones on the Southeast corner of our orchard! These were sweet, crisp, tart and almost syrupy with juice. Do you know what kind of pies these apples would make? Well, I’m so sorry that you don’t know because I just can’t describe them either! Even the word “Scrumptious” somehow just doesn’t suffice to explain them.
They were good! You get the idea.
Jo and I and Mom would pick a bushel of those luscious apples, split them up in three gunny-sacks and carry them back up the road, through the “Poplar Grove” down off the knoll and past the Ravine Spring. We would always stop to rest by the spring and hear Mom’s counsel regarding how important that spring would be to us during “The Time of Trouble.”
We would listen, wide eyed.
Then, we would head across the creek, up the “Dugway” and across the 10 acre field and home.
I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the reasons we went through all this was that, had we not, we would have had little to eat for supper that night. But, with the ever present potatoes, a few string beans and tomatoes from the garden and a couple of pieces of that pie, made from crisp, delicious Snow Apples, we ate like Kings, and never knew we were poor!
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:27)