Space Apples

My CSA apples have taken over my fruit drawer. Since apple season began, I’ve carefully weighed my allotted 1 lb., 4 oz. of apples each week. Now, those elite organics have nestled in, tight and snug. (CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture - aka: locally grown and locally distributed. How I support family farms -- 1600 miles from my own!) With bored kids in the house yesterday afternoon, I decided it was time: to unpack my new apple peeler, corer, slicer. My sister-in-law has had one for years; finally, I have one attached to my counter. After hacking apart four apples, I stopped to read the directions. Then, viol la! What would Apple Grandma think? An hour of sitting and peeling apples replaced by minutes.

A few hand cranks left a ¼-inch peel 10 feet long, a perfect cylindrical core, and a springy coil of white apple perfectly cored, peeled, and sliced. We kept cranking until we had 20 cups of apple slices. Still, eight apples went back into the drawer – just enough for a batch of apple cobbler from my grandma’s & mom’s hometown cookbook.

Then we made two big batches of apple crisp and divided it between three pans. I sent one small pan of crisp home with my goddaughter who had cranked out the apples and mixed the crisp ingredients. After dinner, I had a bowl of warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. At 7:30 p.m., after cleaning the kitchen for the last time that day, I stared at the remaining two big pans of crisp. I was the only apple crisp fan in my house.

Despite darkness, I prepared to peddle apple crisp down my street. I split the crisp between four containers with lids and moved them to the distribution point: my front porch. I texted two neighbors to say I was en-route. I was just going to ring their doorbells at the other two houses. I had a fifth in mind, Barbara, but she is 90 and lives on her own; I didn’t want to scare her with a knock on the door after dark.

While they all appreciated the dessert, I selfishly appreciated their smiles of appreciation. My 2-year-old neighbor boy was reported to have hoarded the bowl while saying “mmmmmmmmm” and Kate, the neighbor two doors down who I had just met – by the light of the blood red moon lunar eclipse – said she was going to share it with Barbara. Kate also said she would meet me at the library today with a space video. After meeting Will a few weeks ago, she thought he might like the video.

Sunday, September 27th, was the night of this eclipse. Will’s science teacher emailed all parents suggesting we let the kids stay up late to catch this phenomenon. Driving home from a Sunday evening scout committee meeting, the boys and I saw the big moon rise over the trees. Bill was in England, awake at 3 a.m. and viewing the same moon. The boys and I discussed the probability of not being able to see it from our house through all the trees. We scouted out the tennis courts near the school as a good place to see it.

Around 9 p.m., we turned left out of our drive; we drove 300 feet and saw three adults standing in the dark at the edge of a drive looking skyward. Aha! I pulled over and turned the van off. “Are you watching the eclipse?” Yes! “Do you mind if we join you?” Please do! Will and Liam spread out a quilt from our van on the drive.

We’ve lived on our street for 10 years not knowing there were space fans four houses down: Mary just turned 90; Bill and Kate are about my parents’ age. Bill soon disappeared and returned with two sets of binoculars and four folding chairs. “We haven’t used these chairs in 15 years! Have a seat!”

For 1 ½ hours, we watched the moon turn red through the binoculars and with our naked eye. And we told space and donkey stories. Barbara had lived on the street the longest. “You know, I watched Sputnik fly over – right here – in 1957!” Something in that statement made Will’s eyes widen, perhaps he felt a little closer to serious space history?

“Did you know years ago the town’s animal control officer lived in your house?” Barbara asked. “He kept a donkey in his barn, and it always got loose. One night I woke up and saw it looking in my bedroom window!” That barn is now our garage.

“We’ve watched all kinds of things with Barbara over the years: the space station, satellites, shuttles…” explained Kate. "We saw the shuttle detaching from the space station one year," I shared by favorite space memory. "I love the Apollo missions," added Will. "I built my own Saturn V. And flew it." It felt cozy sitting there in the driveway. Four generations of us. Strangers with a connection.

Today, this dreary Tuesday morning, I met Kate at the front desk and she handed me the DVD she had promised. At my writing desk, I took it out to have a look. Now, I’m wordless. Look closely, or rather, put some space between you and the screen to bring it into focus.

Do you see a space apple, slightly tilted to the left, with a stem under the "P" and a bite taken out of the right side?

I have goose bumps. Another space friend suggested this kind of coincidence can be summed up in only two words: Space love.

Happy Hump Day.