I just came home with a dozen apples from the market: small Fujis for lunches and snacks and larger tart Granny Smiths to either slice and serve with cubes of extra-sharp cheddar cheese or to juice with carrots and fresh ginger. These apples will last us three days, tops. We eat lots of apples. So many that I occasionally wonder if we are in a fruit rut, then quickly decide there are bigger things to worry about.

My mind wandered, and I thought that unlike peaches, melons, or mangos, apples have a host of associations other than just crunchy sweet goodness – in art, music, and folklore. A few from the top of my head:

  • the serpent tempted Eve with an apple in the Garden of Eden
  • an apple a day keeps the doctor away
  • the Adam’s apple
  • from the Osmonds: “one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl (whoo!)”
  • Johnny Appleseed
  • William Tell and the arrow
  • the Chinese legend of the star-apple
  • Robert Frost’s “After Apple-Picking”
  • the French word for potato is pomme de terre: earth apple
  • The Beatles’ Apple Records
  • I’m typing on an Apple computer
  • Still Life With Apples

Cezanne’s Still Life With Apples

Oh, and of course, Apple is also the name of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s daughter. There are more, to be sure, but you get the point.

Culture is a part of agriculture, and in both those respects, apples help shape the history of Santa Cruz County. In the 1870’s Croatians from the Dalmatian area of the country began immigrating to the Pajaro Valley and brought apple farming with them. Some years ago I was interested to discover, while reading an oral history interview with Mary Ann Radovich, the daughter of one of those immigrants, that the Pajaro Valley was considered to be an ideal place to relocate families and lives because climatic conditions were identical to those in Dalmatia; the two coastal area are even on the same latitude. They were able to emigrate with a degree of confidence that they had the knowledge and experience to grow familiar crops. They were successful; by the turn of the century there were a million trees on 14,000 acres in the area.

Today the apple industry is much smaller than it was a hundred years ago but still exists. Locally-made products are often apple-related. Martinelli’s apple cider is made here, and if you’ve ever had a glass you know the taste of a Pajaro Valley apple. Gizdich Ranch sells enormous apple pies in local bakeries and has a u-pick every fall, so I’ve been able to take the kids apple picking like I did as a kid in Missouri. And the applewood smoked salmon and bacon from Corralitos Market is the freshest and sweetest I’ve ever had.

Those are all my thoughts about apples for now – do you have any?