1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Malus: Why Did the Apple Get Such a 'Bad' Name?

The Fall of Man, Hugo Van Der Goes, 1470

After looking at my Prunus (plum) trees last week and wondering about their relative worth as cultivars, I got to thinking about another member of the Rosaceae family--the ubiquitous and oft-maligned apple. Marnie of Lilacs and Roses fame gave me the idea for this post with her funny comment in my last post. She asked "Don't we all have yards full of the 'recommended' disappointments?" I, for one, am guilty as charged with that crime. You know, the one that involves listening to bad advice because I see something pretty or maybe familiar from another garden in another place and time and just have to have it, no matter the consequence. Okay, I confess: I sin regularly; I'm an impulsive gardener. SAM caught me in the act, and my lusty passion was exposed--this notion came from a recent post by the Idiot Gardener; you will get a kick out of his humor--at one of the big box stores on Saturday. I had a good excuse, really! We had to get the house and the yard--especially the yard, in my opinion--ready for a real estate open house yesterday. After we had plopped several bags of mulch on the large, flat cart, SAM went off in search of something in the hardware section of the store and left me to my own devices in the garden section. He should know better by now than to do something like that. I wasn't too indulgent this time, though, just adding a few six-packs of annuals--not beer!--to the cart so I could freshen up the herb/flowering bulb pots near the front porch. First impressions are important in the real estate market, especially these days. With all of the foreclosures and short-sale deals on the market, every little bit of home-selling trickery will be attempted--nothing unethical, mind you. No back-of-the-limo, down-to-the-wire, last-minute appeals here to sway any undecided, onlooking fence-sitters. I was out front and center in the yard, adding my mulch and flowers, and on Sunday we had several visitors to the open house. Okay, so three of them were neighbors, one just curious, but two of them, an older couple down the street have a daughter, you see, with husband and kids, who wants a bigger house and, of course, a pool! Does she like gardening? If her parents are any indication, she must. Okay, she will probably pass muster, but that first couple who arrived won't. I couldn't gauge much about her honest opinion, other than the fact that her nose kept getting higher by the minute. My mom refers to this type of person as a (with an umlaut on the "a") hoch-nase. His smirking response to SAM's question about gardening was: "Well, our dogs do, and our kids have four-wheelers!" Nope, sorry. It's not your kind of house or yard or neighborhood. There are no covenants here, but some things have to at least pass Walk2Write's litmus test. Lord knows, I've probably just squeaked by in the neighbors' opinion. I hope they all realize that my intention has always been good.

 (Church, downtown Tallahassee, March 2010)

So, what about Malus and its bad reputation? According to some apple growers who are serious about informing people and keeping the ball of public opinion in their court, that painting by Hugo Van Der Goes sparked a forest fire of discontent among apple lovers, beginning in the fifteenth century. Most of the malcontents were apparently illiterates, believing that the apple was the fruit Eve had craved in the Garden of Eden and that it equates with temptation, lust, debauchery, you-name-it, just as the Church had hammered home to them. They couldn't read (or maybe didn't care to check) that the apple is never mentioned in the book of Genesis. As you can imagine, the apple growing market must have suffered tremendously as a result of manipulating public opinion. Interestingly, the same thing happened during the late 1980s and early 90s with the Alar scare, only this time the Church--as we know it, anyway--had no hand in the problem. Sensationalism, somehow, got out of hand once more to sway public opinion. It kind of makes you wonder about intention and its consequences. William Blake probably didn't help the apple's case with his verse about venomous spite. He may have been riding the long-running wave of public opinion to make his point, whatever it was.

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night & morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

(a poem by Wiliam Blake from Songs of Experience, 1794)


  1. Will you stay in the general area??? I was surprised you are trying to sell your place. Good luck with it all.

  2. Can't remember what TV news show I saw this on. Homeowners are hiring actors to greet perspective buyers and convince them that this house has everything they could possibly want. Don't forget to always have an apple pie in the oven:)

  3. Good luck with the sale! Hope someone who appreciates your garden buys the house!

  4. Probably moving to south Florida ... swamp fever, no? I used to eat apples ever day ... but at some point it occurred to me I really don't like them that much. (I'm still a faithful carrot eater though.)

  5. Julie, we are Tallahassee bound. Three hours each way twice a day is just too much for SAM to drive to work and home. It's not an easy time to sell a home, as you've probably noticed in your area, but we are keeping our fingers crossed it will happen soon.

    I usually leave the house when an agent comes over with a prospective buyer, Marnie. For the open house, our agent suggested that we stick around. He thought that if we had multiple lookers wandering around the house, it might be tempting for someone with sticky fingers to pocket something. As for the apple pie enticement, I put a few drops of essential oil in a diffuser to give the house an alluring aroma. Actors? I can do a pretty good job of that myself, like keeping a smile on if someone makes a disparaging remark about the color of the paint or--especially--my choice of plants around the yard.

    Thanks, Sheila! I'm hoping and praying that someone moves in who will love to garden and take care of the property. I've been back to see previous homes we have owned, and it's sad to see things I've planted and cared for let go or just ripped out because they were too much trouble--not really!--to trim or divide.

    Mr. S, nope, not S. Florida, although I like to visit there. We are moving to the Big T, the land of hiking and politics. You must have keen eyesight if you love carrots so much.

  6. Good luck with your house sale! Let the new owner be an impulsive gardener too.

  7. Doesn't an apple a day keep the poet away?

    (I've heard it was probably a pomegranate, not an apple tree, but apple is much easier to say.)

  8. Being brought up in an Irish catholic household, I was taught that the apple was what caused Adam and Eve to turn away from the truth. It also made them realise they were naked. As a young lad, I ate loads of apples, because I wanted to see nudey women. Now I am older I don't eat apples. It's not that I no longer wish to see nudey women (I still do, trust me), but it's that as a boy, I wanted to see nudey women so much that I ate unripe apples. That fruit no reminds me of bad guts.

    P.S. Thanks for the mention!

  9. Thanks for the interesting info, W2W! In all my years, I've never thought that it probably wasn't an apple that Eve ate--do apples even grow in the Mideast?? I still don't like snakes, though:)

    I like your mother's name for a certain kind of people--hoch nase, I'll have to remember that one:) Good luck with the house sale; I know this isn't an easy time for selling houses, but maybe just the right buyer will come along soon.

  10. Thanks, Sarah! If we end up having to rent the house, I will probably be pestering the renters by showing up to take care of the plants myself. At the very least, I'm sure to annoy them by leaving a detailed list of instructions.

    TC, don't you think the apple a day would help the poetry flow more freely? Cathartically speaking, of course.

    Mr. IG, you're a spicy fellow, for sure! I wonder if apple wine could entice you to return to the fold (of apple consumers). P.S., you're welcome!

    Rose, I had the same thoughts as you about apples and snakes for years. It wasn't until I started reading the Bible for myself and tolerating snakes as beneficial predators in the garden that I began to see the light about some of my long-held misconceptions. I hope you're right about the buyers. Thank you!

  11. The debate about the apple will go on forever. Great post, I enjoyed it.
    I hope all goes well with selling you abode and moving.

  12. I read a book on the banana industry recently that held that "apple" was a mistranslation, and the tempting fruit in Eden was actually a banana. LOL

    Good luck with your move and home sale! Your sense of humor will come in handy.

  13. Thanks, Pam. Maybe the warmer weather will bring the homebuyers out of the woodwork.

    MyMaracas, a banana? That's too funny. I can just imagine Eve making comparisons. No wonder Adam grabbed that fig leaf to cover up.