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Friday, August 27, 2010

Killer Fruit!

Eve and Adam and fruit

We have been told that myths have served a valuable purpose throughout history.  Just look at the Greek and Roman Civilizations and all their myths about their gods.  Hmmm, they were both destroyed-- maybe we should look somewhere else.

The oft-quoted and sometimes maligned Joseph Campbell thought that myths provided an opportunity to navigate internally through the complexity of a modern life. He felt that myths provided a better source for psychological realization than psychoanalysis, at least for the motivated self-reflective personalities among us.  

Bruno Bettelheim believed that fairy tales and fables, another form of myths, provided an opportunity for children to work out their fears in a safe, once removed fashion. The children would emotionally benefit from the experience, consider the moral issues and use the experience to prepare them for what their futures would likely hold. I’m still looking for that house made of candy. 

Perhaps the best known All-American Myth is the story of George Washington chopping down his father’s cherry tree. The story actually first appeared in the best selling book by Parson Weems published in 1800 entitled “The Life of Washington” and was just one of several stories fabricated about out first president. 

When I was growing up, I was not taught the story as myth per se but as a morality lesson, as though it was Washington’s inability to lie was somehow connected to his becoming this nation’s first leader. Politics and truth are strange or should I say, estranged bedfellows.

“I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet,” George was supposed to admit to his father, hatchet in hand, full of remorse.  The story was later memorialized in a painting by that most American of artists, Grant Wood, endorsing it and ensuring it a permanent spot in our American Mythology. 

I can tell you that Joseph Campbell, had he been asked about this, would have firmly objected to this canonization. With regard to myth interpreted as biography, history or science he said:

”It is never difficult to demonstrate that as science and history mythology is absurd. When a civilization begins to reinterpret its mythology in this way, the life goes out of it, temples become museums…” 

Grant Wood Inspired

Our investment into that which is fanciful, 
spiritual and certainly not factual becomes 
ipso facto, fact.   

I object to this particular story for completely different reasons.  I object because I know that fruit can be deadly, just ask Adam or Eve, just ask my back-- and their nurturing requires too much work for anyone to admit to harming or interfering with their growth.  

The work begins in early May when the time comes to net our trees. Every year my husband asks for us to do this as his birthday gift, and every year my son and I and friends we can ask to help, come over and cover our fruit trees with netting.  It’s a painstaking process and takes several hours.   The nets have to be untangled, spread out on the grass and carefully carried over to the trees. Ladders, treacherous creations which have caused broken wrists to careless husbands, are climbed as the nets are then tied with garden twine and the trees completely covered to prevent our fat uninvited neighbors, the Grey family (a particularly nasty collective of squirrels) from eating all of our bounty.  I can assure you that if we do not go through this process, we will have no bounty. Experience is indeed a great teacher. The Grey’s have become connoisseurs at our expense and take only a few bites from every single piece they can reach and then toss it aside.  It’s maddening.  

Once the trees have been netted, the fruit is free to grow without fear. We have apple trees and plum trees that we planted when we moved in to our home 12 years ago. The yield varies each year. We get plenty of sun, if sun is to be gotten.  We also have four above ground beds filled with a specific mixture of soil that my husband special ordered and was delivered in a huge pile that was about 15 feet high, right on our driveway. My son and his friend Rachel climbed on top of this when they were about 4 years old and were completely covered from head to toe with the sweetest soil imaginable. It was truly clean dirt.    

I write this as I am recovering from painfully throwing my back out while making two-dozen gluten free homegrown plum pies and a dozen apple pies.  Delicious, yes indeed-- but the sorting, the trimming, the mixing and the making is plenty of work. Up and down, into the ovens where they bake for an hour and twenty minutes at 350 degrees, staggered to make sure the heat flows evenly.  Then each is placed onto the cooling racks for another hour and only then properly wrapped for the big freezer in the garage. 
The Doctor may have suggested an apple a day to keep him away.  I might suggest that should you decide to encounter fruit, be forewarned. Fruit can be lethal.  But should you invite me for dinner, desert will be supplied. 



  1. Oh, feel better, Carol. Loved the clay sculptures by Miles and Anna.

  2. Mucho mythologic parsing, all related to PIE! Ooooh, baby! Bonnie-bottle People, too ...

    My grampa made pie, of the fruit of his ... trees. The gathering-part was likewise a family affair. And my mom's crust was and is perfection. My own pie? Well, anyone can see I'm way too fond of my own baking.

    So: I need the exercise! When it's time to net the trees, if my schedule permits (I still blame you for double-duty on Saturdays -- just knew I wouldn't be able to quit, w/ the Bush economy tanking), I'd like to help. I bet it's Breughel in North Jersey...