Special memories of being in the Smokey Mountains in the fall include eating at the Apple Barn or visiting a Farmer's Market to buy fresh home-grown apples. I never knew there so many varieties existed until we visited the FM in Asheville. Man-oh-man, how delicious can they be? We only saw apples as a kid (Red Delicious) on Christmas morning. Once they disappeared (and they did quickly), we did not see them again until the next year. Recently, with the hint of autumn in the air, we've been thinking of the Smokies, mountain air and apples You can probably smell them too.
In September of 1979, we moved to Springfield, Illinois (from MS), to serve with the Baptist State Convention. Our neighborhood held the annual 'fall pig roast' the first weekend. That was something special. (I'll write about it sometimes). The next weekend, we went bike riding in the rolling hills of Western Illinois, along the Mississippi River. The Lairds (my supervisor/ wife) enjoyed doing this often and thought we would too. Truth is: I had only ridden a "pump bike", but never a 10-speed. (We had a community bike - for seven children to share). You can imagine what happened when I push the gear to "ten", pumping up the steep hill. Wow! such ease! When we finally reached the top; the momentum changed -quickly! Not knowing how to 'gear-down', there I was - speeding down past the others on my way to the curve at the foot of the hill. I did not dare to move my hands at all - it was deathly fear. Several 18-wheelers had passed, coming up the hill, So, I knew I was in danger coming down at a high speed.
A gravel road, doglegged off to the right at the foot of the hill. I decided to take my chances, instead of meeting a truck, riding the middle line closely. Immediately after executing the turn, the bike got stuck in the heavy gravel; I was tossed up and over the bike. Lading on my knees and palms, buried in the sharp rocks, I froze. After an eternity (actually 10 seconds) I came to my senses. My biking partners surrounded me, asking the usual questions! When I finally got to my feet, I made this declaration: "I am going to push this bike back over THAT hill to our starting point while you all continue your sight-seeing." Well, I spoiled that party for the group! (And I thought I would get fired for insubordination the next week)!
We regrouped and changed plans, deciding to 'pick apples in a nearby orchard'. That was the RIGHT DECISION. Apples, applies, apples; I was in heaven - almost! When we finally stopped picking, we had about two bushels, cleaning our wallets. But all the way back home, the aroma provided great healing powers to my aching hands and knees.
For the next several weeks, we enjoyed apples cooked in '40-different ways'- but the best was the lush apple pies. We froze about a dozen, holding them for the promised hash winter fast-approaching. Is there any wonder why the "apple pie" is referred to as America's favorite? It certainly became ours!
Apples have always been a special fruit of the fall and winter. "Apple or apple tree" is mentioned about a dozen times in the Bible. It is always referred to in a desirable manner. We all know the references about being 'the apple of my eye' (Psm 17:8 & others) is a prayer to be always near the Lord. Proverbs 25:11 speaks of 'words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver'. Solomon used the fragrance of the apple to describe the scent of his lover. (Song of Solomon). Adding all of this up, one can see the apple has been a very desirable fruit through the ages. And they are at their best this time of year. Suggestion: try 2 or 3 new kinds of apples and see how they satisfy your taste buds. Remember Ben Franklin's bit of advice: "An apple a day, keeps the doctor away"! Thank God for making this fruit of the autumn season so special.