The Golden Apples of the Sun

Kage Baker loved apples, and apple trees, and the sight of a field of blossom-thick  boughs in a spring orchard. But it was  the autumn season she loved best, when the aisles and aisles of apples came ripe, and could be found easily in perfumed stacks and piles in the local farmers’ markets,

She was in bliss then, wandering among the several stands in the Pismo hills, sipping fresh-pressed cider from a paper cup and selecting rare apples by twos and threes. I followed along with the grocery bags, packing the apples in carefully to be weighed and purchased. The best of the stands published weekly lists of the apples that had c0me ripe, so we could head out anticipating Arkansas Blacks or Rhode Island Greenings or Limbertwigs. Kage always said the Limbertwig was the name of some famous yendri erotica … and who knows? Maybe it is.

It’s a darned fine apple, I know that.

The hilariously named Gopher Glen fruit stand had the most varieties, and made the best cider in the area. Maybe in the world – although I am not entirely certain they were actually in the world. You could reach it by only one narrow  road, which spent its winters being a stream …

They had a delightfully antique and  eccentric apple press, in which the least cosmetically perfect apples of any and all varieties were dumped – then the press would squeak and thunder, and a golden surf of fresh cider would splash and rise in the receiving hopper, ready to be bottled. It was never the same twice, varying wildly from bottle to bottle. Kage would dance with it across the parking lot to our car, white-sneakered feet scuffing through the shed apple leaves and pebbles of jadeite and jasper weathering out from the seaward hills.

That weird, perfumed canyon of apple stands was one of the places Kimberly and Michael and I intended to go this past summer. And the fall, too, when lovely treats like Baldwin and Nittany were available along with more commonplace apples like Honey Crisp and Pink Lady. However, cruel and downright insane Fate intervened, and all the harvest I’ve been able to reap from the advancing dark has been my own threadbare old person.

Not that I am unsatisfied with that! I’m not only safe at home now, I am patently benefiting from being in my own place. I’m walking just over 1,000 feet a day, traversing the house between my recliner and the bathroom. My voice is getting stronger and clearer, I’m eating and sleeping well; although I’m still burdened with a trachea tube, I see the doctor this coming week in order to begin the process of losing it. (God speed the hour!)

All day my sensorium is enriched by the familiar and well-loved: not only my multi-species family, but Kimberly’s dedication to holiday decor: when I walked in last Saturday morning (at 1:30 AM. The ambulance was 8 hours late …) all the autumn lights were lit in the front yard, golden and warm white like honey. The living room was entirely lit with golden lights in garlands of autumn leaves, and it was like walking into a room carved from amber.

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, now, and even with all the lights out, the shape of the room is as familiar to me as any room in which I have  ever lived. I just gaze at the shadowed lines of the walls and windows, and feel peace bubbling up in me like a spring that has been stopped and is now cleared. Old Billy Yeats must have been longing for this kind of tranquility in the poem I referenced in the title of this blog.* I dare say, my memories of apples surpass his in glory, and I’m not chasing any glimmering girl through the woods …

In the meantime, Dear Readers, consider this fascinating article on recently re-discovered heirloom apples:

Do check it out, there are wonders described therein. And if you are fond  of day trips, you might consider checking out Gopher Glen yourself. You can come home with a basket full of jewels – rubies and topazes, beryls and amber, russet and rose and chrysophase. And then – you can eat ’em.

Even Aladdin didn’t get to eat the jewels in his cave of wonders.

*The Song of the Wandering Aengus.  Read it, my children, and be enlightened.

About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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7 Responses to The Golden Apples of the Sun

  1. buggybite says:

    That Gopher Glen description made me SMELL apples, and taste them as well. I also remember the taste of fresh-pressed cider, from our farmer’s market in Michigan (another apple-growing area of the world.) The best were the McIntoshes …which, sadly, don’t travel well. I haven’t had a good McIntosh since I left Michigan 35-ish years ago.

    Here in Scotland we’ve got a Bramley tree in our back garden, and while they make great cooking apples—if you don’t mind them turning to applesauce as soon as they encounter heat—they aren’t nice to just pick off the tree and eat. But damn. I miss those lovely apples I could just pick off trees during my childhood …and heaven only know what varieties they all were. We kids knew where all the good neighbourhood trees were, that’s for sure. Apples are such wonderful fruit.

    I’m so glad to learn that you are home at last, recovering, and that you got such a seasonally appropriate and decorative welcome when you arrived. Hope your health trajectory is only onward and upward from now on.


  2. gary loomer says:

    Mother, So happy to have you home and back writing!


  3. Athene says:

    And you are back, and safe, and I am content. Blessings upon those who got you there.


  4. johnbrownson says:

    Ah, Kate- so good to hear your voice, again! In this maelstrom of change, it’s our friendships that will see us through, like Ariadne’s thread- and I know I just mangled a metaphor there, but I don’t care! Love from DJ and me And the next time we perform “Wandering Aengus” I’ll dedicate it to you. -Buff


  5. Chris S. says:

    Made a day trip to the hills and you will have, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, and Splendor from Gopher Glen (I kept googling gopher gulch for directions) plus 2 kinds of Pippins from the farm just before them. Coming your way in a contactless delivery this evening or next. 11/16.


  6. Kate says:

    ohh, my gods and goddesses! Any gift of apples will be received with delirious gratitude.Mind you keep and eat some yourself, too!


    • Chris S says:

      We still have plenty and now you have a nice hefty bagful on your porch. Mishcief managed. Next year I want to go earlier for the Winesaps and the Mutsus.


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