Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Healing Power of Apples

The party was thought of months before and planned for weeks. We already had the old wooden cider press but hadn't used it for years. My Sister-in-law Kathi had discovered the pick-your-own apple orchard not far from our place in the country. So we decided to have an apple-picking, cider-making outing for kids and grown-ups.

The plan was to gather family and friends early on Sunday, drive a beautiful country road to the orchard, help the children pick apples, and go home for a barbecue and home-made pizza from the wood burning oven on the patio to be followed by apple chopping and cider pressing. Invitations were sent, rsvp’s received. We all pictured a beautiful September day and lots of wholesome family fun.

Then, five days before our party, on exactly the kind of gorgeous day we had hoped for the following Sunday, on September 11, 2001, horror struck our city.

For the first couple of days after the tragedy, none of us — mostly all downtown New Yorkers — was thinking about the weekend or anything much at all but the dreadful losses. But then on Friday evening, people started to call and ask, “Are you going to go ahead with the apple picking?” We decided we would. Many of the children were so little they did not really understand what was going on. “Let’s get the children out of the city and into the sunshine,” was the general response. So we did.

On a glorious late summer day, we drove the picturesque dirt road, went to a mountain top in Putnam County, and carried the young ones on our shoulders while they picked bags and bags of beautiful red, green and yellow apples. We carted the fruit of our labors home, while snacking on some mcintoshes and eating homemade cinnamon donuts from the farm stand.

Kids rolled out dough and chose their pizza toppings. People of all ages ate barbecued sausages with their fingers, and feasted on harvest salads and corn on the cob.

Moms, dads, and grandparents chopped apples and turned the screw to squeeze the cider into plastic cups held in little hands at the spout. Children who had drunk only apple juice from the supermarket tasted their first fresh-pressed cider.

Bathed in the sunshine and the smiles and giggles of our children, we affirmed life in the face of the worst blow our country had ever taken.

Every year, on the Sunday after 9/11, we’ve done the same thing again — with some of the same people and some new ones. Being alive and loving each other. Apples are our best revenge!

Annamaria Alfieri


  1. Patricia, this article does show indeed that life goes on, especially for Americans of all ages. Thelma Straw

  2. What a great story and what a wonderful rejuvenating tradition.