Yesterday, I picked apples with my friend Debbie and her friend Dot. We went to a lovely, private orchard that belongs to Chuck Acker, also a friend of Debbie’s. Because of the rainy summer—annoying to humans but great for apples—Chuck has an abundance of apples and invited us to come and take as many as we wanted. We picked for ourselves, we picked for friends, and we picked for the Winthrop Food Pantry, which received 35 pounds of Chuck’s apples.
Chuck’s orchard is a green avenue lined with apple and pear trees bearing red and green and yellow fruit. The avenue was spotless. There wasn’t one drop, not one rotten apple on the ground. “The deer and the turkeys take care of the drops,” Chuck said. As we picked, he told us about the varieties—-Cortlands, Empires, Wolf River, to name the few that I remember. He brought us proper bags for picking, the kind that you sling across the front of your chest. Slim and calm and unhurried, Chuck gave the impression that he had nothing better to do with his time than herd 3 women around his orchard while encouraging them to pick as many apples as they wanted. While it’s true that Chuck is retired, it’s also true that along with tending his orchards and gardens, he teaches courses at the Senior College in Augusta, and he is taking an advanced Spanish course. He is not an idle man.
Chuck reminded me that there are different kinds of generosity. There’s the kind of generosity where an actual thing is given—in this case apples, which will feed many people besides Chuck and his family. But there is also the generosity of patience, time, and attention, which Chuck gave to us in his orchard. In our hurried world, this second type of generosity seems rare and somewhat precious, and I must admit that I am sometimes stingy when it comes to being patient and to giving time and attention.
This weekend, I will be making apple pies with Chuck’s apples, and his generosity will continue to ripple forth. There will be pie for me and Clif, and I’m also going to make a pie for Farmer Kev and his family as well as for our friends Dawna and Jim.
Ah, apple time!
Scenes from an orchard: