As far as I know , there is only one type of apple that will grow in most of southern California , in the Los Angeles basin , the Anna’s apple . When ripe it is sort of striped red and green . Most apples need a colder climate than we’ve got in Arcadia and around the area .
So , moving right along , here I am in Poland with a borrowed electric chain saw chopping branches from apple trees . There’s a cherry tree in the yard too , and a pear tree , but the apple trees dominate the property . They cover so much of the yard that I was asked to saw several branches off to open things up to the sunlight .
How did I get myself into this situation , you might ask . Another fine mess you got me into ? Well , Ada’s sister has a friend who has apple trees in her garden and we were visiting there a couple of days ago . So , afterward : ” Dan , if we could borrow a saw , would you …..? “
I’m a sucker for gardening work . And there was a promised Polish beer or two in it for me , so why not ? Luckily , as it happened , it was a good electric chain saw with a sharp blade and there was plenty of cord to get from tree to tree , and the weather was good , not too hot , not too cold ; just right like the three bears’ porridge , and a couple of beers were getting cold waiting for me for whenever I might finish the work . Me , Dan Sawyer . American lumberjack in Szczecin .
This was German land previously and a German house before what my generation calls ” the war ” . Mr. Fawlty : ” Don’t mention zee war ! “. These days , of course , no one knows for sure what war you’re talking about when ” the war ” is used , since the routine day to day , year to year , decade to decade has become one war and then another war and then another . Congress never seems to feel it necessary to declare war these days . Presidents, and Eisenhower’s ” industrial-military complex ” of corporations and generals decide those things now , I guess . The cost in blood and treasure is written off , I think , and is off the books . ” From another pocket ” , as a friend of mine used to say about outrageous school district expenditures . It all doesn’t really bother most of us in the USA too much . Now we’re in endless war ; but that’s a discussion for another time . So , as Dostoyevsky wrote in The Gambler :
” To my story , however . ”
The ground was covered with apples . I’ve never seen so many apples , except perhaps once , up in Portland with my friends Joe and Susan . We all went, Ada and I and our friends , to an apple festival there with various types of apples on display . Maybe there were hundreds of varieties ; or maybe I exaggerate just a bit .
Anywho , moving right along , this dude named Johnny Appleseed was up in Oregon , apparently , spreading seeds around the place a long time ago . You’ve heard of him ? Kind of a homeless vagrant with bags of apple seeds , tossing them out here and there as he wandered across the nation , presumably hitchhiking and sleeping under freeway bridges . He may or may not have worn a tin pot on his head . Johnny Appleseed ( an alias ) wandered around the country tossing apple seeds out and about . Why ? It sounds to me like he may have had some mental issues , but that’s neither here nor there .
Why he didn’t make it down to southern California I don’t know . Too hot for him , maybe. He was from somewhere back east . Probably good that he didn’t show up here in the Southland , because he might have fell in blind and hopeless love with the mild climate. Good for sleeping outdoors . He might have staked out a corner of a canyon along the coast or maybe a little copse on a cliff somewhere and never left . Then where would the apple industry in America be today ? See my point ? Evidently , the only apples available in that case would have been Anna’s , and Anna obviously was no J. Appleseed .
To my story , however .
To jump to the end : yes , I enjoyed my Polish beer sitting in a newly aerated garden . The saw was a good one , but it weighed about 25 pounds , which is heavy for an electric chain saw . When the blade began to clog with debris I wasn’t able to loosen the bolt that held the plate that covered the chain-wheel , that trapped the debris ,
that lived in the house that Jack built .
On top of all of this , I’m supposed to go back in a few days to finish the job . I have a sneaky suspicion , however , that ‘the job’ will never be done . It’s a lot like the so-called War on Terror , or the fight to destroy ISIS , or , for that matter , Operation Enduring Freedom , or any of those gloriously but disingenuously -named military efforts of ours .
Tell me when we win , will ya ? Give me an idea about victory . How will we recognize it ? Any markers to indicate victory ? As Serling said : “ There is a signpost up ahead ……..” I’m afraid that we are all now in the Twilight Zone , tweeting on our devices , building and padding our nests as best we can , and missing the BIG PICTURE .
I sipped my Tyskie , anyhow , as Ada’s sister and I discussed Donald Trump and the current Polish government that has neutered their equivalent of the Supreme Court and has commandeered the Polish media . She was cracking , peeling , and eating freshly picked hazel nuts . An old bird’s nest had been dislodged from one of the trees and Ada’s sis wanted me to take it to the grandchildren as a gift and it sat between us on a little table , a well-made nest , but dry and hard-looking , and evidently unconcerned about the state of the world . Sis then talked art to the house owner and so I , not speaking Polish , bugged out and took a walk over to a church next door to have a look , but the church was locked up tight .
Rain began to fall a bit , and the skies darkened . Storm clouds gathered , turned like they were celestial armies maneuvering , positioning , preparing for a coming battle . Suddenly , unannounced , there was some massive mobilization of forces and a massive storm seemed about to strike .
We made it to the tram to head back before the heavy rain began . I wondered if Johnny Appleseed might have been Polish , given all of these apple trees , or German , and I also wondered if the approaching heavy rain would hold off just long enough for me to get home . It did , after all . Sometimes things seem worse than they really are .