We were in the last days of summer. The air was hot and thick, the sun oppressive. That morning I had gotten into a musty old van and was whisked away to the Catskills for a yoga class and hike. As promised, the tour guide ended the day-trip with a stop at a cute farm stand.
The city girls squealed in delight. “Do you know how much I would have paid for these blueberries in Manhattan?” one asked, to no one in particular. “I have never tasted grapes like these in my life. Taste one! Everyone taste one!” another cried. “How adorable are these watermelons?”
I smugly reminded my friend, unrightfully so, that this was nothing special for me. After all, I get farm fresh produce every Sunday at the farmers market I volunteer at. As if that made me any less of a fraud. I, like the rest of the group, had bought an online deal-of-the-day excursion for the novelty of pretending that I am one with nature.
It was technically true, though. I did have the privilege of weekly access to gorgeous local food. I had been enjoying the absolute best season for fruit–fruit of every shape, size, and color. There were the tart blueberries that went into crème fraiche muffins. The succulent peaches and plums that were baked under a crumble. The sweet nectarine that was sliced, diced, and stirred into muesli.
Then I saw a neglected crate of apples. Apples. I recalled how by the end of last winter, I became irritated by their tiring presence, monopolizing the entire fruit stand at the farmers market as pretty much no other fruit was in season. Yes, they were lovely. They made good companions to my morning oatmeal. And made a lovely sticky brandy cake. But even when they came in all their Fuji, Granny Smith, and Macintosh varieties, they were still apples. Their appeal continued to decline with every passing week. By February, I was begging for some new fruit. And when the new fruit did indeed slowly start showing up at the produce stalls, I scooped them up with delight, and continued to do so throughout the spring and summer. How soon we forget the nourishing winter squashes, kale, and sweet potatoes that sustained us through the seemingly never-ending, bone-chilling New York City winter. How soon we forgot about the apples.
I grabbed an apple and promptly paid for it. I stood at the entrance of the farm stand, holding the apple I had just purchased. It was dull, unimpressive. It wasn’t the apple’s fault. After all, it was competing with fruit of all kinds of vivacious colors. It was the first apple I had held in several months. It felt good in my hand. Unlike the some of the easily-bruised summer fruits, the apple was deceivingly light, but sturdy. With hygiene being the last thing on my mind, I brought the fruit to my mouth and took that first, seductive bite. I listened to the crunching sound it made when teeth pierce into an apple’s skin and flesh. I chewed quickly, as if it were an emergency, gulping down that sweet, thirst quenching juice. I could barely sustain the conversation I was half-heartedly engaging in. I was far too busy devouring. Before I knew it, I was left with nothing but a beat up, browning skeleton in my hand. I threw the remainder of the apple as far as I could into the faraway bushes, and fed the land that just fed me that one deeply satisfying apple.
Even then, I couldn’t say there was anything spectacular about it. I don’t know if it could compete with the more exotic, sexy summer fruits that the other girls were gushing over. But not everything in life needs to be spectacular. The apple is an old, faithful friend. A constant that weathers the changing seasons. A simple pleasure. And there is something wonderful about returning again and again to the simple pleasures.