Will You Save Me the Core?

by Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe


Sharing the wonderful taste of an apple becomes a lifelong memory'

It was recess time again, and the teacher always insisted we go outside for fresh air. The wood stove in the Parish hall that was our Senior School was smoky and the smell of books, drying woolen mittens and rubber boots, wasn't good for us all day he said! He was right. The air outside was bitterly cold but better than the air in the stuffy classroom. Mr. Power was a great teacher, and we all loved him. I still have a letter of encouragement he wrote me a few years later when he heard I was having trouble adjusting to a bigger school. Yes, he was a truly dedicated teacher and we all knew it. And just as an aside I should probably be honest and tell you that we must have wanted to be in school that day because any day we wanted off class we would have one of the boys gently kick the stove every few minutes, long enough to get the pipe loose and smoke would billow out and everyone would be sent home. The other trick was for the girls to sharpen crayons and casually toss the shavings on the hot stove, and that would also cause enough smoke and dismay to have us dismissed. Nothing to it, off for the day, the harbor frozen solidly, the ice showing that lovely shade of pale blue with the occasional seal wandering about, big white fluffy clouds looking like cotton wool against the blue Newfoundland sky, and if the conditions were fit for skating we would get the day off. But it must have been an unfit day to find us all in school, guess we may as well pass the day together with Mr. Power as be outside in the cold wind, that was usually our collective thinking.

I remember the recess times in winter particularly because of the big apple I would have, my sister would have one as well. We were in Port Saunders, my little enchanted community where I believe most of my life was shaped, the road not yet opened down the peninsula, a community where we lived a free and wonderful four years during my fathers' posting there. Father would get a barrel of apples, a barrel of this and that it seemed, from the produce boat that came in the late fall, and the apples would be 'Kings', a huge late ripening apple. But every recess when the apple came out of the lunch bag some little boys or girl, usually much younger than I, would approach with several others in tow and finally would ask the familiar question 'Can I have the Core?"

It always made me feel terrible that I had a big apple and they did not, so the apple would get passed around, everyone would have a bite, a practice that soon stopped when my parents found out that we were practicing a 'germ spreading activity'. So my parents said 'Bring your friends home for an apple so they can eat it properly." And we did.

I don't think our classmates were hungry least I hope not! There always seemed to be good food cooking anytime I would visit their homes, I think it was just the hankering for the taste of fresh fruit in the middle of winter. The barrel of apples was big, but I also think it was magical! We never ever go to the bottom of that barrel until springtime. I would be headfirst down the barrel with my legs kicking in free air getting the biggest apple I could find, the big 'King' to share around, and the barrel always had more apples in it. Mother would tell Father he should eat more fruit, he would say that he wanted the children to have it, and so it went, every year. Of course with all the kindness my parents spread around I remain constantly amazed that they didn't end up destitute or living in a tent in the middle of a bog somewhere. They are living proof that kindness is returned ten fold.

So we fast forward twenty years, and I am living in the Valley of the Apples, in Nova Scotia. The Annapolis Valley farm market I was standing in had Cortlands, MacIntosh, Spy, Gravensteins, Bishop Pippins, Russets and best of all an enormous bin of Kings, the famous Recess Time Apple of long ago.

It took a whole day to eat one of those King apples, and they were great for cooking, making apple sauce, and anything else apples flavored. Apples surrounded us, from the blossoms in the spring, to the special pointed ladders of the apple pickers in the fall, all things my children took so for granted.

Wolfville and Acadia University was just a fifteen minute drive from our village of Falmouth, and I spent quite a bit of time in Wolfville. Great shops, farm markets, library, and lots of second hand stores to browse if one had the time. And in the fall the town would fill with three thousand University students, many of them from Newfoundland and Labrador. It was wonderful to see those Newfoundland license plates on the vehicles, and the excited students running around downtown.

And a lovely phenomenon would happen around late September or early October if you drove 'up the valley', as we called it. Probably not too noticeable to many but it sure was to me. And I would silently cheer them on when I saw it. It was the 'gathering of the windfalls' as I would come to call it. A small vehicle with Newfoundland license plates would be parked on the side of the road and the orchard next to it would be filled with students filling their pockets and backpacks with the windfalls of the apple orchard. I enjoyed seeing this many times until finally the harvest was done. The fresh faces of the young people, their smiles and sunburned noses, was all food for the soul. And I would think "Yes, get the apples, get them before they rot, make amends for every little boy and girl that didn't have an apple at recess time." And the day I saw the Ford Escort full of apples with only room left for the driver and passenger and the car sported Newfoundland license plates, I knew they would be OK. They would not have to ask for 'the core.'

A simple thing perhaps, but surely a lesson to be learned. That sharing of the apples taught me to share, to give, and to be kind, to do a random act of kindness once in awhile, to shine a big red apple to a glossy sheen and have it ready should someone want it. And the day I saw a ten-pound bucket of apple cores thrown out at an apple pie baking contest I thought my heart would break as I remembered the little faces in the school yard years ago that looked up at me and asked "Can you save me the core?"

Bonnie Jarvis-Lowe

(1191 words)

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