Background: The informant is a 55 year old mother of three who was born in Pennsylvania. She currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She moved to Chicago when she was 28 years old. She lived in Pennsylvania until she was 10 years old, but would go back every year to visit her grandmother. Her grandmother lived in a small Pennsylvania town in a house surrounded by an apple orchard.
Context: The context was the story was shared over the phone, brought up during a discussion about foods. The informant seemed happy to share old stories.
TC: I’m reminded of, when I was growing up, my grandmother lived in a big house surrounded by a huge amount of apple trees, basically an apple orchard. Whenever the apples came into season, the entire family and some neighbors would come over and pick all the apples. After we were done, my grandmother would make apple cider by herself, that’s why I love apple cider to this day. Oh, also, all of us would help her make plain doughnuts. You know, that’s why I always order plain doughnuts whenever we’re out at a doughnut shop. All together, we would feast on a meal of apple cider and doughnuts.
Me: So, you did this every single year?
TC: Yes. I remember, even when some of us started moving away, my grandmother would still continue on the harvest. She would make her apple cider and doughnuts and share them with whoever was there with her… I forgot to mention, my grandparents were farmers, which was why they had many many trees on their property. They owned a huge area of land and it was the center, or the focal, point of where my family would gather.
Informant: She views the tradition fondly as a time of her childhood. She didn’t think much of the roots but was focused on it being a time of familial gathering and a feast of sweets.
Mine: The family gathering together to pick the apples is reminiscent of old harvest traditions and festivals. It’s an excuse for everyone to gather together and bond through mutual work. Typically, whenever the harvest would be done in the past, apple cider would always be prepared and a feast would be waiting at home for the farmers. Given that the informant’s grandparents were farmers, they were likely aware of this tradition, even if they didn’t explicitly tell their family members. The meaning behind the cider and doughnuts didn’t matter, it was only needed to share time with family – it served as a gathering place. To this day, apple orchards are still used as a prime gathering place, many times field trips used as outings or friends go apple picking as an activity. Typically, sweets and apple cider are still served, emphasizing that while the tradition has changed in terms of farmers gathering the harvest of the year, it still remains to be a community event.
To see another version, TIM STONESIFER. (2009). Celebrating an apple tradition The National Apple Harvest Festival begins this weekend. 1–.