Okay. I returned today to the apple orchard here in Szczecin , Poland , to chop a few more branches , to try and finish the job that I started last week . I had written a post about my experience then.
I wrote about Johnny Appleseed in that post , too ; but I exaggerated so much that I think Johnny should get a slightly better write up here . Meaning no disrespect , I called him a vagrant and said that he wandered the country , maybe hitchhiking and sleeping under freeway bridges , and I pondered why he never made it to California . Of course , this was , I guess , what they call tongue-in-cheek . Maybe that’s the correct expression . It was jest a joke . From all I’ve read about Johnny Appleseed , he was a kind and gentle soul , tried his best to hurt no living creature , added something beneficial to the world , and he deserves a better rap .
There was a man who was called , in his lifetime , Johnny Appleseed . He was John Chapman , born in Pennsylvania in 1774 . He didn’t really scatter apple seeds around from a big burlap sack , but he did wander around quite a bit establishing apple nurseries . He lived a simple life . When he died he left hundreds of acres of nurseries to his sister .
He had gone out west , too ; but the ‘west’ in those days meant Ohio , or Indiana , or Illinois. Go a little further west and you would’ve been in French America . California ? That was Spanish land . That’s why Those Spanish names show up on California maps: San Diego , Los Angeles , Santa Barbara , San Francisco , Sacramento ,
Compton , Bakersfield , Crescent City . And Oregon/Washington area ? The Brits were considering fighting the Spanish for it about that time , I think , while the Americans were already scouting out the best corners for their Starbucks and KFCs . Russians had sailed up and down the coasts there , but they had no chance of holding on to those lands given any opposition.
When Johnny Appleseed was out west , he wasn’t anywhere near there . I had just gone too far saying he’d been in Oregon . And that’s the way it is . Of course , President Jefferson’s Voyage of Discovery led by Lewis and Clark made it to Oregon in the early days . That expedition began in 1803 , about the time Napoleon was selling the Louisiana Territory to the USA .
But what does all of this have to do with trimming apple tree branches in Poland, you say ? Nothing , but once in awhile I feel a need to go back and offer a little apology to any reader who gets a bit bent-out-of-shape when I rove a little too far into the realm of nonsense and mis-information , who feels that I’ve given readers a bum steer .
I wish not to prevaricate , but , as that Russian writer used to say : On with my story , however . [ By the way , there is a Russian River in California , named the Slavyanka River by the Russians in the early 1800s who had settled a trading post , Fort Ross , near the river’s mouth in 1812. Remember 1812 ? Americans were not fighting Russians then , but Englishmen . ]
My translators , my dear Ada and her charming sister , didn’t show up for a couple of hours , so I had to go-it alone with the woman whose trees I was altering with a heavy chain saw . Let’s just say , in passing , that when you cut a branch it should be the right branch , the one the owner wanted cut . They can’t be neatly nailed back up or glued back on . So I checked with her twice before each cut ( A version of the old carpenter rule : Measure twice and cut once ) .
I know how to say ” here ” in Polish ( tutaj ) . That’s a handy one in this situation . Cut here , tutaj ? Positive response . So I cut , and I cut . The trick , I’ll tell you , is to know that when a Polish person says a word that sounds to me like “no” , he/she really means “yeah” .
Cut here ?
” No ” .
Okay . Permission granted . Chop chop !
We tossed the branches and debris over a little fence into an adjoining back yard area . I assumed that that large triangle of land belongs to the home owner , but it may well belong to the neighboring church , too , a modern church rising to heaven just on the other side of a decorative concrete wall . At any rate , that’s not my problem . I don’t want to get involved in any religious disputes .
If it were southern California , the county would’ve issued notices long ago to the property owner to clean up that triangle of land or face a fine . But I’m not now in southern California . I know that for sure because , for one thing , rain falls here most days , for awhile . ( Luckily , I remember what rain is from my childhood , so I wasn’t scared when it dropped .)
To cut to the chase [ What , exactly , is the origin of that one ? Does it refer to the horse chase at the end of the old cowboy movies , which often came at the end of the film , just before the hero kissed the girl ? ] I drank my Polish beer after a job well done and sat for awhile in beach chairs in the garden with the owner of the orchard .
The home owner had the beers cold for me . ( She knew the word “cold” in English ; and she knew that we Americanos like our beer cold ) . She and I sat and talked about California , Los Angeles , San Francisco . She told me about a friend of hers in Bavaria who grows bananas and Kiwi in her yard . A ” micro-climate” , she said . We were talking about fruit , what’s grown in Szczecin and what’s grown in different parts of California . She used her ten or twelve English words and I used my twenty or thirty Polish words and the conversation went quite well , I thought . We used what we had and made the best of it and that was good enough . She asked about pets and so I told her about our cat , black with white on the front and on one paw .We didn’t talk politics or religion . That would have been going too far out on the lingo limb .
When Ada’s sister arrived ( who speaks Polish , English , French , Danish , and Russian ) , I told her about the nice conversation that we had been having . She asked , mystified : ” In what language ? ”
What language indeed ! A language existing somewhere in the odd ethereal gap between English and Polish . A gardener’s language , perhaps .