Friday, September 21, 2012

the apple pickers

The Apple Pickers

it starts with the fall, the way the applies redden on the tree branches, invading the entire orchard tenaciously.  There were rows of apple trees, of peach trees, cherries and pears. But the apples were the most important of all the land — plump and juicy, they were known to make the best apple jams and pies in the state. 

The twins rose early on harvest days. Their usual sleepiness disappeared as soon as their parents started to call their workers to the Orchard, the metallic bell resounding through the entire plantation. They picked their baskets and ran across the fields: his hand holding his hat in place as she released her braids from the morning confinement of the bonnet, leaving the scrap of fabric between blueberry bushes and the strawberry field. The smiles lit up their faces; the summer had turned to fall and suddenly everything made sense again, the warmth of the clothing, the commotion and the action of making jam and pie and spending days secluded in the kitchen, surrounded by their helpers. 

The songs of the helpers filled the air as they worked. The twins were a stark contrast to their dark skins, and yet, that was the place where they felt more included. They could sing and dance, they could jump and laugh and cry and no one would shut them up; there would be no punishment, no going to bed without dessert. The helpers? They knew what it was like to be without food. They wouldn't take it from them. It had been that way ever since they were children.

Eldora was their nanny, growing up. Replacing the figure of the grandmother that was too busy entertaining guests, she would sit them on each of her legs, hold them close until they were both asleep. They didn't talk much; they didn't need to, with her. She knew what they needed even they couldn't put it into words. 

They stopped as they reached the Orchard, their eyes following the trail of dark skinned people taking stairs, holding up baskets, singing songs of love and longing. And mourning. They were singing a song of mourning for Eldora, and the twins sat on the fence while the men and women gathered in a circle, placing their baskets in the middle. 

The boy threw an apple in the air while they stared, his concentration showing in the way he always caught it, always threw it at the same height. The girl twisted her braid between her fingers, a sign of nervousness. She should be in nursing school and he should be helping Daddy with the sales, at the office: but there they were, the clothes from when they were young teenagers only half-fitting, the hat and the checkered shirts and the skirt too short. And they were exactly where they wanted to be.

they stood still, eyes glued to the spectacle before them. There were colors and music and the smell of apples in the air. 

The servants danced now, a young girl they knew as Ginny singing a song of magic and love and the sacred land of God. And with that song in mind, they picked up their baskets and moved to help.


Story 1/52

Welcome to my new weekly project, 52 Stories. Don't forget to this blog or Flickr to see the photos and stories posted every Friday afternoon! 

I hope you like the project and that you follow it as enthusiastically as I am making it. These projects are nothing without your words, your opinions and your encouragement, so don't be shy! Talk to me!

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