• Gordon MacLellan

Apple Day invitations

Apple Day

"stand fast root, bear well top!"

autumn richness is more than apples

Originally designated 21st October when it was founded by Common Ground in 1990, Apple Day has grown to be one of the most successful of the “new” environmental festival days. Combining a sense of harvest richness with autumn fires, roasted apples, apple games and just having a good time outdoors in the autumn, Apple Days happen all over the UK through mid-October. Specific dates depend on local circumstances, but Apple Days offer ideal opportunities for CelebrationEarth! events: opportunities to share, reflect and respond to how we feel about the world around us.

Apple Day activities might include:

  • stories

  • games

  • food – apple cakes and recipes are always well received

  • advice -on old fruit varieties, on cultivating apples or any garden fruit

  • new initiatives – working on, for or towards community orchards

  • tasting traditional varieties: revelling in wonderful names and rainbows of flavours

  • juicing: increasingly there re community presses that can be borrowed or rented for Apple Days and allow people to bring their garden apples for juicing

  • a wassail: a traditional procession to and through an orchard, with toasting trees to thank them for their bounty, singing wassail songs and possibly making lots of noise to scare away any evil spirits or mischance loitering among the autumn leaves

getting involved in apple-dookin'

In 2020, there will probably be few Apple Days happening but we would love to hear of any that are taking place. If you plan an Apple Day (or other celebration of autumn richness), please do let us know and it could become one of our 100 Celebrations and if you create your own poem, prayer or song that could become one of our 1000 Prayers

clay figures made in a workshop with https://www.sueblatherwick.me.uk/

  • Helpful resources The Common Ground book of Orchards, ISBN: 9781870364218, published in 2000 it is out of print but turns up in second hand lists fairly regularly

  • The Common Ground team also wrote: Community Orchards Handbook by Clifford and King, ISBN: 9781900322928

  • Then there are lots of websites and books about orchards and old fruit varieties while folklore and tradition sites will provide descriptions of wassails and their songs

  • The essence of this, however, is celebrating your own fruit trees in a way that suits your selves as individuals and as a community and supports your work and your trees so research, explore and improvise!

Stand fast root, bear well top!

Play God send us a howling good crop!

Every twig, apples big!

Every bow, apples enow!

(traditional wassail song)

An Orchard Summoning

orchards invite us to join in, to help, to let go of "this is mine" and recognise a longer term and stronger communal ownership

Bring me a beetle,

A chafer, rose or noble,

A dark shimmer of green

A maybug blunder in a spring twilight.

Bring me a yaffle,

Ant bathing and talkative,

The warm apricot blush of bullfinches,

Feasting on the buds of April.

Bring me the roe, the chestnut ghosts

Slipping without sound, shadows within shadow.

Bring me the bats of the deep night,

A flicker of moth and hunger.

Bring me the children who steal

The windfalls from the wasps,

Bring me the laughter under the leaves,

Picnics sprawling between sun and shelter,

Bring me the tales knotted into the roots,

Of the oldest trees

As Apple Tree Man whispers through the branches.

Bring me sharp apple juice and sweet,

The delicate scent of quince.

Bring me bitter rowan and dripping elderberry,

Well jellied for a winter feasting.

Bring me those branches,

Twisted by centuries of skill.

Bring me an orchard to feed

Body and soul and story.

Bring me it all.

Victorian black and conference

Grenadier and quince

Damson, bullace and sloe

Mabbott’s Pearmain, Gascoyne’s Scarlet

Tydeman’s Early, Rossie Pippin

Fillbasket and Qarrenden

Bring me nothing,

But let me share

A joy, a hope, a bounty.

Bring me nothing,

But let me offer

Strong arms and a willing heart

Bring me nothing

But let me offer my love

Victorian black and conference

Grenadier and quince

Damson, bullace and sloe

G MacLellan, 2018


Photos come from various Apple Days at the Dove Valley Centre in Staffordshire

The clay figures are from sessions at the Centre by potter Sue Blatherwick

All photos: c G MacLellan

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