I photographed this apple about six years ago just outside of rural Bethel, Maine. It was a real visual cliché but I still like the image.
But even a simple piece of fruit can provoke some creative musings on the nature of human perception.
Consider these six views of an apple:
- The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-Tse saw an apple hanging from a branch and was reported to have said — “Let it ripen and let it fall.” He would perceive the essence of all human existence with an unflinching eye.
- A hungry hiker gazing upon the apple would see a free snack. Maybe it was planted by Johnny Appleseed for famished wayfarers.
- A local journalist might scribble some snappy free associations for an autumn “local color” piece for the Sunday paper or a blog entry: Apple of my eye, An apple a day keeps the doctor away, etc.
- An 18th century Eastern European rabbi might see the fruit and coin a catchy proverb for his congregation: “To a worm in an apple, the whole world is an apple.” The same insight also apparently applies to horseradishes.
- A natural scientist wandering by would probably want to know the Latin name of this particular tree, how old it is, and if the roots are shallow or go deep.
- An economist or business person might survey the unblemished apple and start posing these hard-headed questions:
Can the tree pay for itself? Is it worth investing in fertilizer, pruning, insecticide? Is it worth the effort and money to grow certified “organic” fruit? Does it make more sense to cut it down and mill it into boards for high-priced apple wood tables, chairs, and cupboards?
With oil at well over a $130.00 per barrel, is firewood a better bet than fruit? Can the digital photo of the apple be sold to a stock photo company and then marketed to art directors worldwide?
Can it be pressed into cider or made into apple sauce and put into glass bottles or cute plastic cups with eye-catching graphic labels that proclaims to the world that this is “Bob’s Best Old Tymie Natural Apple Sauce: Good for the Stomach & Spirit & Planet.”
Who we are and what we do in life determines so much of how we see an apple…or the world.
It is inherently difficult to believe that what we see is not what others see. And, of course, we are entitled to the first and biggest bite!