I remember clearly that when I was in high school (heck, even as far back as junior high school), the waning days of August were a bittersweet time for me. I had a love-hate relationship with school. I loved being together with all my classmates who became scattered over the summer, but I hated the thought of homework, tests, and my loss of freedom to lie in our hammock under the apple tree in our back yard and lazily read Archie comic books while following Mickey Mantle’s quest for the Triple Crown.
In our neighborhood, we had a late-August ritual: harvesting apples in my friend’s apple orchard. They were the really big yellow kind. We called them “banana apples.” My friend, Sam, and I would help his parents and some neighbors fill basket after basket with these carefully grown apples. They took good care of those apple trees and after a few days and evenings of work, all the baskets were filled and the tree branches had sprung skyward, free of their fruity burden. We all took a brimming basket home as payment for our labors.