Fragrant Quote for September 12th, 2012 from My Grandmother's Table by William Henry Shelton

Apples in Flander Image Credit


My Grandmother's Table by William Henry Shelton
The old orchard is a fragrant, haunting memory, from the dainty season of the pink blossoms to the empty barrels that smelled of the cooper's shop, and the filled ones that emitted the faint odor of a score of varieties that made up the apple harvest. The sweet-bough tree littered the ground with golden apples that drew the wasps and the bees out of space. There were pippins and Rhode Island greenings and black apples and spice apples and harvest apples and russets and spitzenbergs and sheep noses, which were black gillyflowers, and tolman-sweets and seek-no-furthers, and there was one tree whose apples, through some merry freak of the pollen, were sweet on one side and sour on the other. One face of this apple was the yellowish green of the tolmansweet, with the peculiar seam of that variety distinctly marked from the stem to the chit, while the opposite side had the color and flavor of the greening.

The northern spy was a natural fruit but recently discovered in the adjoining
township of East Bloomfield, in the orchard of Farmer Chapin, who named the new apple from the direction in which he first spied it.

Grafting was a new experiment, and in the magical process a limb was sawed off, and the exposed end was covered with grafting-wax, into which the sprig to be propagated was inserted, with the same result as sticking a willow whip in wet earth.

In the late spring the pies were made of dried apples, prepared by my grandfather in the fall, when he sat astride a narrow board and turned a crank that revolved an apple on a fork under a knife that pared it in a second. There was a balance-wheel to multiply the revolutions of the fork, and the mechanism was of my grandfather's construction. Most of the neighbors had a similar machine, and no one was clever enough or mean enough to patent it.

I lived in such a world of smells that I should be glad to identify my grandmother's table by some distinguishing odor, as familiar as the smell of the bed of tanzy that grew along the road outside the garden fence, or the smell of the pile of red cedar posts by the orchard gate, or the smell of a certain loft where the shaving-horse stood, with the bucket of tar and the iron letters, under a shingled roof that was baking in the sun; but the smell of the table was a composite of too many delicious smells.