Seems, with political correctness from ALL sides, and the search for political purity, rather than diversity and consensus, we are like the one apple tree cider, or one hop beer: it all may be an interesting study in one hop, or one source of apples, but often less complex so less interesting, and B… O… R… I… N… G.
So, yes, there is a political, social skew to this. I am a believer everything in life is connected; metaphors and similes are our bridges between all that may seem unconnected. Hence, The Golden Apple Tree.
For years after we bought our place in Beaver River, to be honest, I ignored the apple trees that had been planted by railroad workers in this part of the Adirondacks. Now I’m beginning to think they too are a source of wisdom, passed down from previous generations.
One day, as Rusty Thompson and I were walking somewhere, he reached down, and scooped up an apple from the ground. He brushed a little sand off from the dirt road and said, “Have you tried these?” Then he took a bite.
Perhaps I had seen one of the worst Star Trek episodes from the 60s one to many times? You know, the one where space hippies finally reach the planet Eden and find it to be one huge, extremely acidic, poisonous, apple.
I asked Rusty, “You can eat those?”
“Sure. They’re really good.”
Being a homebrewer, well you probably know what my next thought was. I bought a small fruit press. Then I brewed an apple brown ale, a caramel apple braggot (cross between mead and beer), a cider-stout mix, made hard cider and an apple braggot that went to 26abv…
“Wow! I’d love to try that!”
No, you wouldn’t. Super high abv brews can make a beer into a great looking, but not so palatable, “apple.” It has to do with balance, and the fact that alcohol itself tastes terrible. That’s why we don’t just distill straight alcohol and be done with it. Hence: martinis, Harvey Wallbangers, the progressive Flo-inator, beer, wine, stingers and whatever “da young uns drink dese days.”
No, there’s no mixed drink called “the Progressive Flo-inator,” I heard it was real popular once, but became so irritating no one wanted to “go with the Flo.”
Yes, a “joke,” or an attempt at at least a tiny apple seed of a “joke.”
Well, I had been collecting apples from the tree nearest my place, and increasingly another tree in front of the Thompson family’s local business: Norridgewock. My opinion has changed. I think apples from different trees generally make a superior cider, just like representative governance can make a superior society. (“Can,” not “has to.”) Oh, and in my own ignorance I thought since those apples were kind of small and sometimes ugly, scarred, they were less likely to make good cider. Apparently the opposite is true. Apples that aren’t that good eating can make superb cider.
It’s kind of like how Joe Atlas or the prom queen may look perfect, but are sometimes empty in far too many other ways. Looking merely at the exterior can be a prescription for failure whether it be making cider, human relations, politics or international relations.
Audi, no relation to the old five cylinder car called the 5000, is working on the house next to mine. He told me of this “perfect” apple tree and gave me directions. I searched, and searched, but couldn’t find it. I was so focused on my own perceptions of where it was I only found it when I finally looked beyond my own blinders. I started using a lot more of those apples: they looked so perfect. But they taste like pears. I had no interest in that dominating my ciders or brews.
Not unlike the beauty queen, the handsome football player or the dominance of one sided politics. Shallow… less useful for a truly free society.
What we perceive as “perfect” may not be what we need. Despite the drive from some theists to have theological correctness, Jesus didn’t look for the perfect disciples. Indeed his apples were imperfect, but together they helped create what became Christianity.
People are too focused on finding that golden apple tree… thinking no other apples matter, or must be avoided, are nothing more than pure evil. Theirs is simplistic view that ignores the very diversity even Christianity came from.
It’s not unlike how people view entertainers and creative “geniuses.” As brilliant as they may be we also owe their parents, mentors and teachers for what they became: and odd as it may seem… even those who challenged them by making them prove themselves, and prove their detractors wrong.
The “brilliant” people who told Elvis he should just go back to the farm helped to make him more determined. Adversity, handled well, can be our friend. But it tis hard to see that mid their short sight insults, for sure.
It’s not a matter of finding some perfect apple tree, it’s how the all the apples from many places come together to make culinary magic, something marvelous, a better person, an improved society.
Public discourse these days too often relies on pure race horse “blinder”-like rhetoric… frame all but the “golden” apples in the worst way possible. And hey: if someone cuts a few down of the demonized trees: kills them, well all for the better. However that can contribute to making a society into something like the planet in that old Trek episode.
I have started to plant more apple trees in Beaver River because I have come to believe, after a lot of trial and error, that drinking only single tree cider is eventually boring, at best. It’s kind of like beer: using just one malt, one hop, one yeast all the time and the brew becomes a big yawn.
And as to politics, base only focus eventually fails, even though the apples we reach for may seem golden.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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