Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day three hundred and nineteen ... An apple a day.

I love apples.

I have one every morning--a firm, green Granny Smith--with a bowl of yogurt and granola, and a cup of strong coffee. I think it's the perfect breakfast. 

And almost everything on my morning breakfast tray is a consistent product that I can safely guarantee the quality of when I either take it out of the fridge, the cupboard, or the Tupperware container, because it's packaged, at some point or another, with freshness in mind, and quality control is exactly that.

But the apples, on the other hand ... they are a wild bunch indeed.

There is only so much a person can tell from holding an apple in their hand under the bright florescent sabers from above, without taking a bite right there in the store, so we approximate.

It could be that a tiny discoloration on the skin of an otherwise fine specimen is more than it seems. It could run right through it down to the core, spoiling our enjoyment and putting a pall on the beginning of an otherwise bright and shiny day.

Or it could just be a speck on the skin from a dent after a fall. It could be nothing.

One apple looking, for all intents and purposes, like its crisp, tart, full-bodied neighbor on a fruit display may have exactly the opposite inherent characteristics. It may, indeed, be mushy, flavorless, and pedestrian. But you won't know without either knowledge and comparison to its family tree, by watching an outside party engaging, or by jumping in and tasting for yourself.

I feel that people are a lot like apples.

Or, for that matter, fruit in general.

Just think about it. Think of all the types of fruit we know of. All the flavors, skin tones, textures, seasonality, size, fuzziness, striation, levels of maintenance, resilience towards temperature shifts, commonality, exclusivity, homogenization, and history.

Take the grape: 

Grapes can represent an impervious culture of people. They are raised in bunches from a long and winding base. They are resistant to handling, yet inadvertently there are many who fall off of the stem in transfer or transit. Some make it on the journey with the rest of the clan in whichever mode of transport is used--bag or box--and are simply passed along with their brethren, while some leave the fold and are never to be seen again. And the grape has come to represent to me a fascinating display of innovative and utilitarian uses. Whether it's wine improving with age and weaving a common thread through civilization, or raisins which maintain an iconic place and purpose in a seemingly bedraggled state of degradation both in mouthfeel and apperance.

Bananas are similar. To have a banana is to hold hostage a piece of nature which is ever so susceptible to time, temperature, handling, and storage. Its life can be watched, almost in real time, and kept track of as if it were a brilliant yet stricken individual capable of a few grand symphonies, but whose oeuvre will more likely than not be meager. A banana is a fragile flower indeed.

The melon could outlive them all if it weren't for the winter squash.

And for the means of this discussion (if you could call it that) the potato--not a fruit at all but an icon of sustenance nonetheless--if unused, grows with a fury unmatched. If neglected, it will forget about us long after we have forgotten about it as it slowly wastes away before us in the bottom drawer. It has no qualms being alone. It is simple, sublime, and modest to a fault.

But the apple remains the quintessential vagabond impervious to most forms of intense travel. Its thick skin can resist a day trip in a book bag, or a week's journey in a crate bound from one country half way around the world to end up at the head of the produce aisle, gleaming under the shafts of florescence overhead, its first flank giving way to hundreds of countrymen stacked in symmetrical unity above, to the sides, and underneath. And as one is chosen to leave the fold in a plastic bag, any number of its clan will topple forth and take its place in the fray, its strength in humility only outweighed by its sense of egalitarian purpose and infinite essentiality.

I love apples.

Just thought I'd share.

Thanks for reading.


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