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Fallen Apples

(Photo by Sebastian Droge via Flickr Creative Commons)

Robert Frost's apple poem "Unharvested" begins: 

A scent of ripeness from over a wall.
And come to leave the routine road
And look for what had made me stall,
There sure enough was an apple tree
That had eased itself of its summer load,
And of all but its trivial foliage free…

Birds rustle amid leaves in the layered canopy of apple boughs overhead. The upper boughs of these - my favorite trees - are heavy with apples ripening in the September sun. Soon, apples will begin to fall, hitting the ground with a hollow thud. Everywhere, sweet, windfalls litter the orchard floor. They lie broken and bruised; their soft brown flesh gone mealy.

I pick through firmest fruit to find most are flecked with brown scabs of apple rust or black, powdery mildew. Only a rare few had ripened to perfection, fallen, bounced and rolled to rest resplendent in the green grass. But be careful before you bite one! Hidden hornet and ant tunnels riddle the fallen fruits. By night, the deer, coyotes and a bear visit to crunch and slurp sweet apple slurry.

The season of falling apples and longer nights has arrived. Soon the last early Macs will rot and dissolve in the frosty grass. Speaking of "Frost," he ends his poem:

… The ground was one circle of solid red.
May something go always unharvested!
May much stay out of our stated plan,
Apples or something forgotten and left,
So smelling their sweetness would be no theft.

Naturalist Dave Anderson is Senior Director of Education for The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, where he has worked for over 30 years. He is responsible for the design and delivery of conservation-related outreach education programs including field trips, tours and presentations to Forest Society members, conservation partners, and the general public.
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