There were more apple trees in my backyard than one could shake a stick at. My grandfather planted them soon after he bought a large parcel of land in Central Pennsylvania. By the time granddad died in a car crash, the trees produced abundant crop; enough to make apple pie for all of Huntingdon County, or better yet, sufficient hard cider to fulfill the quench of man who worked harder than a mule all his life.
Grandma Taylor tended to the trees long after George died. Although the fruit was not certifiably organic, but rather, fertilized with large bags of synthetically manufactured manure, grandma’s apples were said to be better than that of the Amish, who attended to their fields less than an hour away.
Crisp fall mornings were intoxicating inside grandma’s trailer. She used a shiny stainless steel juicer– one of the first ever produced in China, where the user was required to change paper filters after every bushel of apples or so.
When George was still alive, the apples were pressed under an oak press that he carefully chiseled from timber fallen on his own land. The cider was stored in wooden barrels and stored in a barn free of animals, where the cold frost would not bring upon the hardness before its time.
Grandma did not shake the trees to bring down bright red apples, but instead used a picker– a wire glove it seemed– strapped to the end of a long pole, to get them all down without causing bruises. She had no desire for there to be more hard cider around by the time I was born, so instead, she used a juicer to make what was to my tongue, the best spirit there ever was from nature.
On days like today, there were already so many apples the ground. The deer would party silently outside of her trailer at night; getting their fill for the cold winter ahead, and destroying what grandma could sell, as to pay her taxes on all that land.
Awoken by a dream of George and his apples, grandma silently rolled open the slits of a small, opaque window above her bed at 3 am, and shot what she saw as rodents destroying her very livelihood.