How do you relieve stress: Massage? Herbal tea? Video games? How about smashing rotten apples?
My friends Ed and Devon live in the Oak Grove area of Portland—Milwaukie, actually—in a neighborhood near the Willamette River that boasts extra-large house lots and mature trees. Many of those trees are oaks, giving the neighborhood its name, most are pines, and many are neglected apple trees. Because these trees were left to run amok for decades, and haven’t been pruned or culled, their fruits are scrawny and wormy. While these apples do not lend themselves to fresh-eating, they still serve a very important purpose.
In 2009, Mike and I were invited to a Labor Day party at the house in Oak Grove. “Apple Ball” they were calling the party. Intrigued, we showed up with some beer and snacks.
Those of you who are up on your Get Your Pitchfork On! chronology know that 2009 is the year we sold our land in the Gorge. The sale closed at the end of July. It’s safe to say that on Labor Day we were pretty stressed out.
We walked around our friends’ house to the backyard, where we could hear everyone congregated. In addition to the usual murmur of voices and music, I kept hearing a high, metallic tink! sound. As we rounded the corner, a smile lit up my face. Our friend Ed was pitching rotten apples to one of his neighbors, who obliterated each one with an aluminum baseball bat. I couldn’t wait to get in on this!
Once it was my turn, I picked up the bat and faced Ed. He pitched an apple, and tink! it exploded, and then rained apple-shrapnel on us and anyone who had ventured too close. This was great! This was cathartic! This was exactly what I needed!
The following Labor Day was the same story. More rotten apples. More silly giggles.
Last year, Ed and Devon understandably decided to take a break from throwing this huge party. I was sad to lose my opportunity to take out some aggression on unsuspecting apples, but we were preparing to move to Wallowa County, and I was in the middle of a yard sale.
Throughout the month of August this year, at our house in Enterprise, I have been dealing with windfall apples from two trees in our backyard. I’ve gotten a few crisps and a batch of applesauce out of the deal, and also buckets of windfalls too damaged to salvage for food.
And then, Ed came for a visit. We have a wooden bat, which makes a duller sound, but it did the trick.
I know that a lot of people enjoy Apple Ball, but I’m pretty sure no one enjoys it as much as Ed or I. I submit this video as evidence.