Amazing Apples

by Melannie Svoboda SND on October 12, 2015

When I was 14-years-old, I got my first non-babysitting job. I worked at Sorter’s Fruit Stand at the corner of Chardon (Rt. 6) and Bishop Roads. (There’s a gas station there now).  It was a great job that paid 50 cents an hour. But the job had other “benefits” besides money: I was the only girl who worked there with about seven young men. Granted two of them were my brothers, but the other five were neighborhood boys who sometimes set my little heart aflutter. But this blog isn’t going to be about old boyfriends. It’s going to be about amazing apples. 

You see, Mr. Sorter had a big orchard behind his house where he grew lots and lots of apples. In the fall his front lawn

The baskets of apples on Mr. Sorter's front lawn looked like these.

The baskets of apples on Mr. Sorter’s front lawn looked like these.

was filled with baskets of apples for sale—all different kinds: McIntosh, Jonathans, Granny Smith, Cortlands, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome, Stayman, and others. If we worked the lawn, we were expected to know not only which apples were which, but also the uses for each apple–whether it was best for cooking or eating or both. Needless to say, I preferred to work in the fruit stand because I could easily tell the difference between a cherry and a plum. But I couldn’t always tell the difference between a McIntosh and a Jonathan.

My work experience at Sorter’s Fruit Stand gave me a greater appreciation of the wide variety of apples. And over the years I learned many other things about apples. Here are a few facts that I find interesting. You might too.

1) All apples trace their origin to the northern slopes of the Tien Shan Mountains, the border between China and Kazakhstan. Even if the apple you are eating is from your own back yard, it has traveled great distances—historically speaking—to get to your mouth.

Apple trees are prolific.

Apple trees are prolific.

2) Apple trees must be pruned regularly. Entire branches must be snipped off (ouch!) in order to concentrate the tree’s nutrients into fewer but bigger apples. Apple trees must be cross-pollinated too. Growers rely on bees to do this work for them. (The bees don’t even get paid 50 cents an hour!)

3) If you cut an apple horizontally, you will find a five-pointed star inside. Each ray of the star holds a few seeds. Apple seeds are mildly poisonous. Although they won’t hurt humans, they do deter some birds.

4) Most apple trees are not grown from seeds, because seedling apple trees often differ greatly from their parent tree. Most apple trees are produced by grafting. This way the apple grower knows what kind of apples the tree will produce.

5) Apple trees are prolific. A single tree can produce between 80 and 440 pounds of apples a year! Sometimes the branches of the tree have to be shored up or they will actually break from the weight of all that fruit.

6) The old proverb says, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples have been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers. They are also a source of fiber and are cholesterol free.

The next time you eat an apple, I suggest you ponder it. By this I mean that you gaze upon it before you take a bite out of it or slice into

Yummy!

Yummy!

it. Do you know what kind of apple it is? Smell your apple…feel your apple. Gaze at the color of its outer skin. You might want to cut it horizontally to see that five-pointed star and to count the seeds nestled in each ray. As you munch on your apple, notice the coloring, the taste, and the texture of the fruit. And finally, give thanks to our Great Creator for blessing our world with amazing apples!

The song for today is “Everything Is Holy Now” by Peter Mayer. It invites us to broaden and deepen our understanding of what is holy, what is a miracle. If we do, we might be able to say that every apple is holy too, every apple is a miracle!

 

Did you learn anything new about apples in this reflection? If so, what?

If you took time “to ponder” an apple, I’d be interested in your thoughts and feelings about the experience.

Are there other kinds of fruit that you find “holy”?

Do any words or images from the song touch you today?

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen October 12, 2015 at 5:16 am

Sr. Melannie,

I live in a rural area and the farmers sell their apples directly to us. It is such a blessing to buy them from the folks who pick the produce. They often sell the apples from wooden bins.

Kathleen

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Chris Keil October 12, 2015 at 8:21 am

Wonderful! You also just explained the process of “mindful eating”. So often we are not mindful of what we are doing at all…….getting ready for work, driving to work, eating, we are mostly on auto pilot. But if we truly eat “mindfully” we can appreciate everything, eat less, and hopefully live more!
Thanks Sr. Melannie

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Roberta Brunner October 12, 2015 at 9:21 am

Thanks Melanie,
We had an apple tree in our back but it probably was never pruned so the apples weren’t good for eating but my brothers and I would pick up a wagon full off the ground and take them to the local cider mill and Mr. Cummings always made us some cider. I live in tampa now and I miss cider mills this time of year.
Roberta, OSF

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Sr. Joyce Bates snd October 12, 2015 at 9:37 am

When I was working on my masters degree in formative spirituality at Dusquene university the prof of my sacrament course defined sacrament as celebrating an encounter with Christ. The song reminded me of this &that all of God’s creation is sacramental!

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Kim Hollinger October 12, 2015 at 10:07 am

What a beautiful song. Thanks for sharing!

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Mary Schneider October 12, 2015 at 10:23 am

Living in Nevada most of my life, I was familiar with apples primarily grown in the Pacific Northwest. Now a resident of Wisconsin, I have discovered many new and wonderful varieties. As the saying goes (kind of ) I have never met an apple I didn’t love! Thank you Sr Melannie for reminding me of God’s bounty.

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Suzanne Sayer October 12, 2015 at 11:38 am

A large apple tree grew in the front yard of my grandmother’s house. My cousins and I spent many hours in the branches of that tree. We could never wait for ripe apples–we ate lots of green ones.

My favorite apple these days is the Honeycrisp. It is so crunchy and tastes great. Thank you for these interesting apple facts.

Love the song.

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Elizabeth October 12, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Sister Melannie,
I love the music videos you have each week, I listen to them after I’ve mopped my kitchen floor and after I’ve read your blogs, it is so relaxing, thank you!

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michelle c. October 12, 2015 at 1:40 pm

It is the season for grapes also. I think grapes are holy.
The colors and fragrance are so appealing. What a wonderful
autumn we are having this year….Gods abundance and
blessings on all of us.

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Joy October 12, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Always enjoy your newsletter…and they resonate with me…
keep on keepin’ on……

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mary james October 12, 2015 at 3:33 pm

I love to eat apples cut so I can see the star. It’s like eating and praying at the same time. I am always looking for my Good God’s care.

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Joanne Bennardo October 12, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Dear Sister Melannie,

Your thoughts to be mindful towards our eating habits reminds me of a prayer practice that I think originated with Brother Lawrence’s The Presence of God. He offered continual prayers while he chopped, diced, and peeled in the monastery’s kitchen.

We are also invited to pray over our fruits and vegetables, but since most of what we prepare in our kitchens doesn’t come from our own gardens, we offer thanksgiving instead to all those who make our meals possible… from the ground to our tables.

We pray: Thank you God for those who planted, watered, harvested, packed, shipped, shelved, and sold the food we now prepare. An added brief prayer might be offered also for those who are hungry and unable to enjoy God’s bounty today.

As usual, Sister Melannie, thank you for an awesome recording. It is indeed incredible that all is a miracle…including your inspirations and my being able to share with you now.

God bless you. Joanne

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mary October 12, 2015 at 9:19 pm

the wonder of our God !! The song reminds me of how we can often miss the miracles of each day. Thank you Sister!blessings!

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Tom October 12, 2015 at 10:04 pm

The many apple varieties with their very distinct usages are a delicious metaphor for ” many gifts, but the same Spirit.” They may all be apples, but don’t try to make apple sauce out of baking apple or an eating apple. How much we need to respect this mystery in one another, especially when filling holes in the fabric of the Kingdom.

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Mary Ann De Meo October 13, 2015 at 2:56 am

Hi all,
Loved Apple story, I grew up in upstate NY and we used to pick our own apples at a local orchard. Loved the song both the words & the captions as I am deaf. Florida SND Associate.
Blessings,
Mary Ann & hearing dogm Dora- woof

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Mary Therese October 13, 2015 at 7:15 am

I came late to this blog today. (Actually, it’s now the next day.) I so enjoyed Sister’s thoughts on apples, but I must also say, I so enjoyed everyone else’s reflections on apples. Thank you all!

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Cathy October 13, 2015 at 10:19 am

I second that, Mary Therese! Sister Melannie’s reflection each Monday starts my week off with joy, appreciation, compassion, introspection – centering my approach to my life tasks. But an added benefit is the community I feel when I read the responses. God bless the Sunflower Seeds Community!

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Karen October 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Dear Sr. Melannie,
My cousin and I worked our grandfather’s fruit stand in Claridon when we were children. No payment other than priceless memories!
I absolutely love “Everything is Holy Now”. Always look forward to your posts. Thank you!
Blessings,
Karen

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Mary Fran October 13, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Mel,
Right now in the kitchen there is a large bowl of fresh picked apples of several varieties from the farm. It is beautiful to behold, wonderful to sniff and a delight to pick the apple of the day and enjoy. I promised them they would not be put into the refrigerator.
Thanks again for connecting so many dots in your reflection!
Me

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Kathy D October 14, 2015 at 9:45 am

Thanks again, I always like starting the week with your reflections.

The song was perfect today – I’m working through the Ignatian spiritual exercises with other members of my parish. Finding God in the everyday things – yes, everything is holy.

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Melannie Svoboda SND October 14, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Dear Readers,
A BIG thank you again for all of you who read my blog and for those of you who have responded to this particular one. Thank you for sharing stories of your experiences with apple trees and apples… for reminding us of “mindful eating”… for commenting on the song (yes it is very beautiful—and very Ignatian and Franciscan and…) for reminding us of the holiness of grapes (maybe next fall I’ll do a post on grapes!)… for talking to apples… for seeing the variety of apples reflected in the variety of people in our lives… and for calling our attention to the “Sunflower Seeds Community.” Yes, we are a community of about 1600 now… I really appreciate all your responses! God bless all our readers! Sr. Melannie

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Shirley Sahlfeld October 15, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Love going to the Honey Crisp apple orchard and pick the apples in Michigan. It is a special time with our kids and grandkids.
Thanks for sharing this and the beautiful song.

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