"I love the wild days of autumn, the west winds that rock the apple tree and bring down the leaves and fruit and nuts in showers ............. Soon perhaps over one wild night, the last of the leaves on the magic apple tree will be sent swirling away, and on the bare branches will hang here and there the last few, shrivelling fruits. and finally those, too, will thud to the ground and burst open and rot gradually into the soil, or else be taken by the birds, getting hungrier, now that the cold has come, and on that morning whenever it comes, the autumn will be over" ~ Susan Hill.
Today as many of you know is Apple Day. This event which is celebrated mainly in the UK was the idea of the organisation Common Ground. The first Apple Day was celebrated in 1990 in Covent Garden, London but since then has spread so that events celebrating the apple are held across the country. The day not only celebrates the wonderful variety of apples that grow in this country - over 2,000 varieties but also the richness of locality and regional identity.
Here the day has dawned with some appropriate misty murkiness lurking in the air, which promises to give rise to autumnal sunshine later. We will be celebrating Apple Day with an apple dish of some description tonight, using up a kind gift of a bag of apples from our neighbours. I'm slightly under the weather at the moment with the dreaded lurgy, so do not think that we will be attending any events. Instead I think that I will curl up later and revisit one of my favourite books 'The Magic Apple Tree - A Country Year' by Susan Hill. From her home Moon Cottage she sets out to record "the sights and smells, the people, gardens, animals, births, festivals and deaths that the changing seasons in the small Oxfordshire community". The book follows the seasons, describing not only the yearly journey of the gnarled old apple tree that grows in the garden but also observations and musings on what is happening elsewhere in the garden and the village beyond. There are several seasonal recipes, including one for a delicious sounding walnut and apple tea- bread - maybe that is one that I should try out later if I have all the ingredients to hand.
Throughout the book there are exquisite black and white engravings by John Lawrence.
The book was published by Penguin Books in 1982. Sadly as far as I can gather is no longer in print but it is possible to pick up second hand copies - well worth tracking one down if you do not already have this in your bookshelves.
The illustration from the cover of the book is Samuel Palmer's work entitled 'The Magic Apple Tree'.