Saturday, October 23, 2010

After Apple Pickiing

When we lived in Massachusetts, we had a ritual. On the first Saturday of October, we would bundle up in cable knit sweaters and thick socks and go apple picking. Our oldest daughter, only a baby at the time, would sit in her backpack and gnaw on apples as Hal and I filled a bushel of different varieties. We'd top it off with apple donuts and fresh, hot, apple cider before heading home to make sauce, butter, pie and chips. I miss those times. Fall is, by far, my favorite season. I would give two summers for one good Autumn. I love the smell of winter closing in, leaves mulching on the garden and moist earth preparing to sleep for a few months. In honor of the season, I'm posting a poem by that quintessential New Englander, Robert Frost.

After Apple Picking

by Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still.
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples; I am drowsing off.
I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the water-trough,
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and reappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking; I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall,
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Girl Quit Playing

We’ve entered a new phase. It’s the “hang out” phase.

“What do 11 year olds do when they get together?” a very astute friend asked me. My answer? “I have no idea. I guess we’re about to find out.”

I’m trying to encourage my sweet 11 year old to open her circle of friends. She has playdates with a group of 4 other girls, and they are, except one, weird. One is so painfully shy that, when she finally answered a question I asked, after I’d known her for 9 months, had her at our house, taken her to the Butterfly Pavilion and Percy Jackson, all this, and when she finally answered a question directly, without whispering the answer to Oldest Daughter, I felt like Superman after he turned the world back. Successful, but oh, so tired. Another is the Magical Creatures Queen. She and 11 year old are sorceresses, demi-gods, witches, etc, all with an elaborate set of rules that I’ve stopped trying to understand. And what happens if you use a magical word wrong around Friend #2? She corrects you. With a very long, detailed explanation. A third friend hasn’t bathed since 3rd grade. The fourth friend, who never was weird, recently dropped the group in favor of “hanging out” with girls who bathe, do not play the 6th grade version of D&D, and who actually use their verbal skills. I don’t care much for some of the words I’ve heard that group use (example: 11 year old girl to 11 year boy, “I’m a girl and I can prove it!”) So, it isn’t that I really want her to move to those friends. I’d just like to see her extend her friendship to girls who speak loudly enough that I can hear, use words I understand, and don’t grease up my house just by walking through it.

So today, New 11 Year Old Friend has come over. And the answer to the Sphinx’s riddle?

11 year olds give each other makeovers, cook rock candy, and microwave frozen spring rolls when they get hungry.

And they don’t need me around.

Except to clean up, because now there’s peppermint candy all over my floor and the blender is being filled with what I think will become a peppermint chocolate chip shake, assuming they remember to put the lid on.

And kudos to me for not reminding them to put the lid on.

Because I do remember being 11, and one thing is very clear. 11 Year Olds may need Mother Figure to buy the food, but they do not need Mother Figure to speak unless spoken to. She must not make jokes, use slang, listen to music or talk about people 11 year olds know.

Ooops. Hope 11 year old doesn’t read this.