Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Turning of the Wheel; The First Apple Harvest

The year moves on, the seasons change, the wheel turns.  Humans have for a very long time tried to domesticate time, dividing it up, giving names to days and months, numbering each so we know where we are where we were.  Our memories put significance to certain of those labeled days; March 18th, December 25th, September 11th.   We know when Monday comes and we trudge to work, we look forward to the weekends.  We have a time to eat, a time to sleep, a time to worship.  Each year is divided into months, the months into weeks, the weeks into days, days into hours, the hours into minutes, the minutes into seconds.  Yet the uncontrollable time is not phased, it marches on, moving as it always has, in its own way, uncaring of how we try to control it.

One of the reasons that drew me into being a witch is the joy of celebrating time's march.  Some call it "The Turning of the Wheel" and look forward to the next marked holiday on that wheel.  While I do so love celebrating the changings of the season, unlike other witches I do not celebrate dates on a calendar that show the season is changing.  That is beautiful in its own right, but for me it is still trying to make time and the seasons fit what I want, not celebrating them for what they are.  Instead I celebrate events as they come; when maple season starts, when the lambs are born, when the garden is started, when the first apple is harvested...

These do not always fall on the same day.  Nature does not own a watch, nor does she mark days on the calendar.  When she is ready she opens up the next season and does not wait for us to catch up.  It is up to us to be ready for her and not ask her to follow our crude attempts of control.

A few days ago as I walked home from the prairies I took a turn through the apple orchard and saw that the first of the apples would soon be ready for picking.  Apples are an important part of this farm, a full 20% of its farm based income comes directly from the orchard.  Without those apples, my taxes don't get paid.  The apples do not ripen and then wait for us to be ready to pick them.  It is time to begin the harvest.
I brought the first of the early apples in yesterday; Jersey Mac, Puritan, Duchess. The first bite into a sweet puritan apple is enough to die for.  As much as I think I remember what apples taste like, my memory is nothing compared to that first bite when the juices explode against my tongue.  If the legend of the apple leading us to sin is correct, I sinned big time today. 

Now, early apples are delicious but they do not store well.  The apples that last the longest in the root cellars are the ones that take the longest to ripen on the tree.  So, for the most part, the early apples are blended and turned into sauce and cider.  Once we make cider we then make ginger/cider soda, cider vinegar, and, for friends, apple jack.  These friends come this time of year to help pick the apples and get ready for the fall sales.  I am so grateful for them as I know I could not get the harvest in without them. 

So this weekend I throw a party for those coming to help.  Food will be spread out, apple jack will be passed around, and we will gather as we have done every year, to celebrate the event of the apple harvest, to celebrate the turning of the wheel.  The summer solstice has come and gone, the days are getting shorter, the pull of preparing for winter in here, and we are celebrating the first harvest as has been done for generations.  This is not symbolism nor an abstract religious gathering.  This is the very real knowledge that through what we are doing, we go on, we continue on this life's path.  For some reason, this makes the harvest even sweeter.