I really wanted you to know this:
Apples most likely originated in Kazakhstan from the Malus sieversii and brought over to America with European colonists then became a part of American culture with a little help from Mr. Appleseed himself, John Chapman. Around the turn of the 19th century, Johnny Appleseed bought some apple seeds from a Pennsylvania cider mill and headed to the Midwest to develop his orchards. At the time, the Homestead Act required settlers to plant 50 apple trees within the first year of holding their land and soon the apples, along with the settlers, began to establish their roots in America.
– Layla Eplett, Scientific American: Food Matters
The portion above on Johnny Appleseed was just one of many exciting things I learned while on a bike tour one recent Saturday (and subsequently fact-checked for this post, because that’s how I am). Here follows a loose recipe for an active day.
– An interest(s) that can be done outside (here: biking, learning, trees)
– Any Related equipment (in this case, a bike)
– Access to the Internet
- See an event online. In this case: a bicycle tour called Fruit Cycle, of heritage trees (from City Fruit‘s website).
- Note date and start time on your calendar. On hand: Gasworks Park at 10 AM on a Saturday.
- Critical non-step: intentionally avoid asking distance to be traveled (or similar details).
- Invite spouse, tell friends you are going (so it’ll feel weird if you shirk it).
- RSVP (so you feel obligated to go).
- Get your stuff together the night before, don’t forget some bright clothes for traffic visibility.
- Put on sunscreen, go on tour, be distracted and fascinated by all the things you learn and see, not noticing you are also biking around north Seattle for more than 2 hours.
- Realize you forgot about also having to bike home.
- Stop for coffee, bike home.
Makes: 11 miles + 3 bonus mile bike ride
A few snaps from my exciting tree-bike adventures.
This Week’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 5 of 5, very neat!
Likelihood of Repeat:20% This percentage is a lie. That’s part of the trick to it. Honestly, I already pulled this one on myself again the next day, trying out a volunteer stint, and when I went kayak-camping the first time in my life and failed to think about the task of the return trip after paddling 4 miles out to an island, aHA!
Lesson Learned: If you feel a mix of dread and anticipation for an activity, it is probably in your long-term interest not to ask details like how far you will be going, so you take less time getting worked up about it.
Apparently, that Homestead Act spurred a whole lot of apple tree planting in the United States back in the day. These days apples you buy in the store tend to be from grafted versions, to control the consistency of produce, not big old trees like in Meridian Park shown above. I remember reading about this in school, but it’s a very different thing to really see it. It is literally one apple branch shoved into the cut off branch of another tree to make a frankenstein of a tree (done at the right time of year, with a little sealant to keep things together). It’s a real thing! That blew my mind to see the Hawthorne tree on the Burke Gilman. At least, I think it was a hawthorne tree (apologies if I am wrong). Grafting is, like, tree magic..
I’d be interested to learn more on the ebb and flow of the American cider industry in relation to the Homestead Act and Prohibition, but even googling it at this point would delay shipping this post, and also going to bed, which I’ve been trying to do at a more decent hour lately. So that’ll just have to wait another day (or you can look it up and post in the comments for us all).
Bonus delight derived from fact-checking the Johnny Appleseed tidbit resulting in me rediscovering a habitual favored read from when I was a kid in my parents’ house, reborn as an online source. Yeah I know, Scientific American, total nerd-dom. I don’t care, the Food Matters section makes that part of my brain that goes ‘aha!’ light up. Look! They even have one on Potential Implications Brexit May Have on Food.