I don’t know if you know this, but… I think I need to share something with you. Please be seated, lest you perish of surprise.
Apples are free.
Like… they don’t have a price.
No, I will not.)
Let me explain.
Now, I know this is going to shake up your world, if you’re anything like me– used to thinking of fruit in terms of oh, it’s $5 for a three pound bag of apples, berries are marked up, and bananas are dirt cheap.
I was used to thinking of fruit in terms of grocery store, farmer’s market and how much it cost (also the fact that I desperately wanted to live off it, but with Steve Job’s pancreatic cancer, and Ashton Kutcher’s fruititarian scare, my dreams of living in strawberry fields forever were forever marred).
But one day, I while I was out getting the mail from our box across the street (a weekly ritual), I noticed that, miracle of all miracles, there was an apple tree among the brush– just behind my mailbox. And that furthermore, the apples did not appear to be of the ever-useless crab variety (I have no patience for jam). This was like stepping through a looking glass, though infinitely more dramatic, as you may imagine.
Apples… across the street on no-man’s land… for free? This alternate dimension appeared to resemble the reality I had always known, so I was quite perplexed.
Although from afar, it looked like a small tree, up close it was a good deal higher than standing on my tip toes and reaching my arm halfway from its socket could remedy.
Still determined not to let the fact that I’d gotten my mom’s height genes instead of my dad’s, and feeling rather stupid, I jumped. Even then, I could scarcely reach. But I finally got it [it being the lowest possible apple] after a few good tries (and amazingly, not twisting my ankle in the process).
Nervous of what to expect (some piece of garbage apple that looked normal, but just by very virtue of its impeccable location was inedible and/or poisoned was what initially came to mind), I took a bite and was surprised to find–a worm!
Just kidding. I mean, there could have been any variety of them, but I never saw it.
No, what surprised me was to find that the apple was crisp and fresh and just as good as those skinless McDonald’s ones in the bag. 😉
(I viscerally detest the word delicious but it could be used here if this were being written by another individual).
I was so excited. I love apples!
I ran home to tell my neighbor. We were always half-jokingly calling the area in which we lived, “The Garden of Eden” because of all the plant and animal life (mainly, chipmunks and deer– though I was still holding out for a manatee).
Now with forbidden apples (well, forbidden by their proximity to my hand), it really was like Eden. (I turned my back on the highway that ran inconveniently through my front yard, to get the full effect).
For weeks, I plotted how to get a ladder over to our place to gather the apples (at one point I even brought my car across the street, to try to get to them from the roof, but that was also a failure, mainly because some apples weren’t worth looking quite that idiotic), but I was sort of reluctant because the ground was uneven and I had visions of falling to my death onto what was essentially the highway, all for a few apples (admittedly nice ones).
No, I didn’t like them apples quite enough to risk my life for it. So they sat on the tree and I was vaguely disappointed that they would go to waste, but I felt that the tree and I were at an impasse.
Besides my friend was getting married, I was going through a break up and I had started my blog. I had bigger things to worry about than apples.
(In reality, clearly nothing is more important than apples, but I tried to convince myself differently. You do that when you’re in dire emotional straits.)
Then one day, several weeks later, when I was walking home from the gym (it’s across the street, which is a terrible thing to happen to any person, for it leaves absolutely no excuse for their biceps not to resemble Jessica Biel’s– man or female). And I stopped to get the mail once more.
This time I had my gym bag in tow, so I was surprised at how perfect it was to find that almost all the apples had recently fallen from the tree, and as Isaac Newton would have it, onto the ground.
Elated by my sudden turn of luck, I collected the globes strewn across the ground and tossed them in my gym bag.
(I left the ones with just a bite taken from them– tickled by the finickiness of wild animals. “But mommmmm I can’t wear this coat– I wore this one last week!”).
But as I was gathering the apples, I couldn’t help but have a revelation (I know. You’re just going about your day, picking apples from the side of the road and minding your own business…) the same one to which I alluded previously in the article: that apples are, in fact free for the taking.
They even fall off the goddamn tree for you, in case you don’t have a ladder (or health insurance in case you fall from said apparatus). How’s that for service? I was looking for a tip jar…
It was then I understood that nature had provided us with this food for absolutely no personal cost. These apples didn’t understand money or capitalism or the concept of being bought or sold. They grew naturally, as part of some earthly plan of mother nature. They hadn’t been pesticided (look, that needs to be a word, I’m just gonna say what we’re all thinking), they hadn’t been tended to by anything other than the elements.
They were just there as food, to be eaten by living things. No eye towards the highest bidder, just food that humans needed, provided by trees which grew plentifully from the ground.
We have been gifted by nature the tools to survive. In the natural world, there is no check out line and earth does not accept credit cards. That’s because nothing costs money in nature.
Money is an illusion. Just like the cost of apples.
This was almost making up for the fact that my garden had gone to absolute shit from just one over zealous rainstorm (yes, it rivaled the Ark flood, though this one happened in The Garden of Eden)… as well as my lack of weeding.
(How do you know what’s a weed and what’s a carrot?! I ask you…)
It was amazing to me to have this stupidly obvious, yet completely new realization; that we as humans and then businesses, then corporations, put a price on natural products that are a human birthright. By simple nature of living on this planet, food is provided for us. It’s us who muck up the process so badly that some people starve while other people get extremely fat, and the world is polluted and things cost too much. This isn’t the way nature intended it.
That is obvious, if we’re willing to put down our apple products and look around. (I know, I’m kind of attached to mine too…)
Life is not meant to be a struggle; life is provided for. But we have bastardized the process, like everything else, and now apples are sold in bags without the skin, probably genetically modified and called “healthy”. Yes, they are healthy… in comparison to fried lard and processed wheat and freezer-thawed diseased animal carcass. (But it tastes great with ketchup.)
I just suddenly understood that some benevolent force was behind this. It made me look at the world through a completely different lens. You could call it god, but I think we’ve also bastardized him. I just think it’s the force of nature that brings us all here, with the idea of giving and receiving the best that life has to offer.
Somewhere along the line, we lost sight of the best things in life, because we got tricked that guns and gold and girls were really all that mattered. (Hey, thanks Metric. You really cleared that up for me. Rumor has it all of them, couldn’t get you off…)
Yes, fruit is free. So are vegetables. So is the warmth and energy of the sun. So is fresh water (except we’ve polluted it so that now you often have to purchase it in plastic bottles instead).
The things we need to live, are all here.
It’s how we distribute these gifts to mankind that creates poverty, starvation, and war. The healthiest foods in the store often do cost more than the cheaper versions.
As the Pixies once asked, Where is my priority? Or something along that line. And it was way out in the water… See it swimming?
We aren’t eating real food because we’ve lost sight of what’s important– of what humans are meant to eat, and of what the earth naturally provides.
If you look at this from a sort of existential point of view, it’s clear that we aren’t unwelcome guests at an over-crowded dinner party on this earth; we’ve simply tried playing god with too many things for far too long, and in the process we’ve fucked up the very best things that we have been given.
No, you can’t generally get fruit for free (at least not in Upstate New York, where picking apples is just as expensive as buying them at the store, and that’s just about as locally-grown as you get with fruit).
Yes, you’ll probably still have to pay for apples at the store. Unless you grow your own. (I’m pretty sure that’s still legal…)
But just remember… they are given for free. They aren’t meant to be bought and sold. Life isn’t meant to have a price. I understand that’s “idealistic” but so was everything in the past– before it was changed and became reality.
Just try to always remember that the earth is created with you in mind, and vice versa. We’ve alienated ourselves from nature but that doesn’t have to continue. Remember the true nature of things. Remember the true nature of nature, and you will know yourself.
We are meant to be here, we are meant to live in nature, and nature is happy to take care of our needs. Even if you have to buy apples, don’t forget the grand design that is behind them, all that conspired before man got in the way, to bring them to you. It really is a miracle, if you think about it.
Never take the food you have for granted, nor the forces behind it that make life on earth possible. We live in a truly magical world where fruit is free and sunshine is given to all who exist, regardless of age, race, religion or status.
Nature is the most beautiful thing in the world, and it is the great equalizer of man. No matter who we are to the world, we all need to eat. Picking those apples was a humbling and humanizing experience for me that brought me back to nature, even with a highway at my back.
And by the way, I came home that day with my gym bag full of apples, quite pleased with myself.
I wondered briefly at all the apple things I would bake then realized I was kidding… But at least we’d have fresh, organic apples for weeks.
I went upstairs to tell my sister Camilla how I had brought home some apples for us, proud of my newly-polished aboriginal gathering skills.
“Hey Cam, you know those apples across the street?”
“Yeah, about that… Look honey, I don’t mean to make you feel bad or anything, but I saw a homeless person picking those apples across the street, and I just think, maybe they could use them more than we do. I mean, we can go buy them…”
“Oh no. No, you’re right. That’s awful. Ugh, now I feel so bad. When did you see that?”
“Yeah, I know. I just saw them like a few minutes ago when I pulled in.”
“With a baseball cap?”
“Yeah! Why, did you see them too?”
“Cam… That was me.”