Stolen fruit

This summer was the first since I can remember that I've had Labor Day off. In a town where Monday brings the last line at a clam shack's window, Tuesday does just as well for the worker's day.

But this year, we called it quits. Labor Day means a rest for us, too, we decided. Orange-topped coffee pots sat empty, stove top pilots flickered idle beneath the fan, and the clatter of dishes ceased for an evening.

We dragged totes of lobster and oysters and tuna and fruit out across the sand at noon and began to feast. The sun played forgotten across my skin, dogs quarreled, and the tide crashed out. By evening, we were surfing, riding and tumbling against the mess of choppy swell, laughing and crashing and paddling out again.

By sun fall, I was ready to return home, exhausted from food and play. I walked up the dune, out the parking lot, and headed on foot towards town. As I made my way through the flickering light, I stopped to read the mailbox names. Rabbits scampered into the bushes as I passed, and a family of turkeys crossed safely from field to forest.

At every driveway, it seemed, I found an apple tree. This was old Truro, untouched by mansions and time, stuck in the poetic throws of agrarian life. At every tree I stopped, picked a piece of fruit, and continued walking. The residents were gone for the summer—they'd packed their bags this morning, swept out of town, and left the harvest to fall, overripe, to the ground.

By the time I reached town center, I carried a Sunday paper, packed into its careful plastic sack with 14 apples: one from each of some family's chapters. They were large and small, unblemished and wormy, tart and sweet. Many were the same; I wondered if perhaps there had been a larger orchard once, and I'd just stumbled upon the pieces.

Whatever their history, they were excellent for eating. I took bite after bite as we drove home, tossing core after core out the truck window until finally only seven remained. With more, perhaps, I could make a batch of applesauce, but for now, I'm content to breakfast.


Take as many sweet apples as you'd like, and wash them in cold water. Put on a large pot with 1-2 inches water to boil, and drop in apples, whole or sliced. When tender, crank the apples through a food mill or press them through a fine mesh seive, catching pulp in a large mixing bowl. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and sugar to taste (all are optional), and serve chilled or hot.


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.