Of course I’d been told about stealing and the Ten Commandments. I had also been specifically instructed, perhaps too many times for my rebellious nature, not to take, I mean steal, apples from the old lady’s yard.
“She’s stingy and mean,” my mother would say. “She would probably come out and hit you with a stick or something. There’s no telling what she would do if she catches you in that yard!”
The woman’s house was the last house on the road and beside of it was the dirt road that was beside the, “sewer.” She lived on what we called, “Sewer road.”
About twenty or thirty feet from the curve, where Sewer road went straight ahead and our road took a sharp right, her house was on the corner.
You could smell the odor and most of the children in the neighborhood wouldn’t play on that corner of the block, which is what our neighborhood was; one block in a small rural town. I guess the old woman was glad the smell kept us away, but I was curious and had a bicycle.
I’m not sure what it was that made me want to take those apples. I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t come outside, be nice and give a person an apple.
I’d ride my bike around the block and every time I passed her house I secretly hoped to get a glance at her. Sometimes I’d see her raking leaves and I would slow down, but she wouldn’t even look at the road.
There was another woman who had an apple tree in our neighborhood. She was younger, but was still old in my young mind. She was married and lived closer to the main road than to Sewer road. Her apple tree was right there at her front door.
The lady’s house down by the sewer sat further back into the woods, leaving her unattended apple tree to a curious girl like me.
I would put on one of my older sisters’ bra. I could stuff up to three of four apples in each cup.
My friends would dare me. They couldn’t believe I was so brave and at thirteen, this was pretty cool I thought. Most of them wouldn’t even walk that way, because of the smell, but they were also scared of her. Plus, I had one of the few bicycles in the neighborhood. I often rode alone.
I was taught that the best apples were the ones that had already fallen, but not yet eaten by worms. I was also told that picking from the ground was simply the right thing to do. My dad’s folks said that leaving the good ones on the ground, and that meant ones without worms or with only one or two wormholes, was being wasteful.
The old woman’s tree was quite abundant. I don’t think she ever even used her apples! Wasn’t she being wasteful?
My friends and I did enjoy eating the apples. I think that matters.
My mom said that the other woman was stingy too, but that if I knocked on her door and asked politely, that she might give me an apple. So I did. I never wore out my welcome, which was at best tentative.
“Yes, I guess you can have one, but take it from the ground and only one,” she would say. “I’m going to be making jam soon.”
Well I knew that I would never taste her jam.
For some reason, I liked better the apples from the tree down by the sewer. Both trees produced red and crispy apples. I guess hers were better because I didn’t have to deal with her like I did with the other woman. Neither of them were pleasant people.
We didn’t have much to do in the town I lived in. My grandmother always said, “Idled hands are the Devil’s workshop.” I guess she was right.
Much laughter occurred when my friends saw me returning, apples bobbing around on my flat chest. Sometimes one in each pocket of my shorts. I couldn’t see how that woman ever missed any of her neglected apples.
I guess I shouldn’t have taken, I mean stolen, those apples, but I did, and much fun was had.
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Apple Trees via Wikimedia Commons