Lischer-Goodband: Apples And Climate Change

Oct 20, 2016

In the current political climate, there is little room for discussing climate change. But in my forty years of living in Vermont, this is the warmest Fall I’ve ever experienced. And, each year, spring seems to come just a little bit earlier. Now that it’s apple harvest time, I’m reminded of how precious this year’s apple crop is.

This past spring, warm days came earlier than usual, and many apple blossoms opened too soon. Then, there came a cold snap, that caught the flowers off guard, and each flower that was lost, was an apple lost. An orchardist for more than 40 years, my husband has seen the apple season become longer in recent years, and calls this: “climate disruption”.

This year’s Fall foliage has been stunning - with exceptional color holding tight to the hillsides, so we can enjoy the display just a little bit longer. But this gift of long-lasting color is due to this year’s drought, another indicator of climate disruption.

Still, here I am, enjoying red and gold trees gracing the Vermont landscape, and I’m grateful to be eating one of my favorite apples.

The Hudson’s Golden Gem is a bright, burnished apple, tasting of pear and apple all at once. This apple variety satisfies my desire for both fruits, and I imagine, that Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit, would have chosen this apple to match her own beauty.

With golden skin and a blush of red from this year’s extra warm summer, this apple is as pretty as any bright, shiny object that I know of. Except, maybe a few other apples such as: the Blue Permain, Hidden Rose, Black Oxford, Maiden’s Blush, Ashmead’s Kernel, Lady Apple, Winter Banana and Orleans Reinette.

In “Ode to the Apple”, the poet Pablo Neruda said, “I want to see the population of the entire world, united, reunited, enjoying the simplest act on Earth: eating an apple.”

Now I understand why my husband works so hard during the harvest, to bring one beautiful apple to my lips, and bring one hundred and twenty apple varieties to all the pilgrims, who make the journey to the orchard, to find these rare apples at this ephemeral time of the year.

As I savor the sweet taste of my golden apple, I’m mindful of how the warmth of just one Spring day, arriving a little bit too early, can impact such an iconic American fruit as the apple.