Friday Five

It’s a Johnny Appleseed Friday Five!

Johnny Appleseed
As posted by Singing Owl at RevGalBlogPals:

Raise your hand if you know that today is Johnny Appleseed Day!

September 26, 1774 was his birthday. Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among those who were captivated by the movement west across the continent.

As Johnny traveled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels. According to legend, Johny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received to churches or charities. He planted hundreds of orchards, considering it his service to humankind. There is some link between Johny Appleseed and very early Arbor Day celebrations.

Apple pan dowdySo, in honor of this interesting fellow, let's get on with the questions!

 1. What is your favorite apple dish? (BIG BONUS points if you share the recipe.)

It's pictured here on the left in its Martha Stewart glory, Apple Pan Dowdy. We made one for Thanksgiving a few years ago, and it was the most delicious think I've ever tasted. I think we'll make it again this year, thanks for the reminder!

Here's the recipe, and again, thanks to Martha Stewart.

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about?

More than one, but I'll tell you about the special tree we planted in my mother's memory. Many years ago, my grandmother went to Japan as a Laubach Literacy Volunteer, and she made many friends who remained connected to our family over the years. Yone-san, as I always called her, came and stayed with us, or with my grandmother, for extended periods over the years. When my mother died, she sent my family a card, and in it she enclosed a piece of Japanese paper money, asking us to do something with it in my mother's memory. My father asked me to find out the approximate value of the yen note, and we determined it was about $50. We considered what to do with it and decided we would like to plant a tree. But my parents' home, with a tight little courtyard, didn't seem like the right place, and I was living in a rental. So we called my mother's best friend and asked if she would be willing to let us plant a tree at her summer home in the Berkshires, my mother's favorite place on this Earth. Aunt Peggy agreed. In fact, she said, as little girls they picnicked under a Catalpa tree that had been damaged in a storm some years ago and removed. We could plant one together.

That summer we traveled from various directions, my dad, my brother and his family, my little boys and I with my then husband, my mother's brother and his wife, all gathered at Fairhill in New Marlborough. We went to the nursery in town and bought a Catalpa tree and planted it together.

My father never spent the yen note. He bought the tree himself and tucked the bill in a dresser drawer, where I found it after he died.

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not?

I think itinerant preaching has great appeal, as long as I can return to civilization (cell phone service, Starbucks, cable) in between!

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours?

Molly Pitcher.

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he traveled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do?

Now that I know others have mentioned "The Happy Wanderer," it's hard to think of anything else, but I also love the Johnny Appleseed song, which I learned as a grace at summer camp and ran into again as an adult at a church family camp.

This was fun! I'm inspired to make an apple something-or-other now!

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10 thoughts on “It’s a Johnny Appleseed Friday Five!”

  1. This is timely for me this week, twice over: Z. took a field trip to an orchard on Tuesday and came back with stories about “John Apple,” so we’ve been boning up on our John Chapman (Michael Pollan’s chapter on apples in _Botany of Desire_ is excellent) and he was born 200 years to the day before A.!

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  2. Okay, I have to be pedantic here, because, well, because it makes me laugh. Johnny Appleseed was, no doubt, a fine upstanding citizen and a devout Christian. BUT. A biological peculiarity of apples is that they don’t grow true from seed. Say you plant seeds from the Macintosh apple you just finished. The tree that grows from it will, in all likelihood, produce apples that are absolutely nothing like Macintosh apples. In fact, chances are pretty good that the apples it produces will not be tasty enough to eat. So, all those from-seed orchards that Johnny Appleseed planted, what were they for?
    Hard cider. Because that’s what Americans did with most of their apple trees, back in the day.
    It’s a slightly different service to humankind he was offering when you know the whole story, eh?

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  3. The pan dowdy sounds absolutely scrumptious. And I’m now delighted to know that Appleseed was planting orchards for hard cider. Yum–I love hard cider.

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  4. (Snicker) Phantom Scribbler…! And Songbird, I thought of a whole ‘nother song when i saw your post — “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy, Makes your eyes light up and your tummy say Howdy.”
    Behind our house in Maine when I was little was a catalpa tree, where my brother and I had a swing. The house has grown over the years (and belongs to someone else now) and the tree is much closer to the house than it was. But I still have a special feeling when I see one.

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  5. Oh Songbird, lovely post, as always!
    I was singing that old Doris Day song right along with Auntie K, but I have never eated apple pan dowdy and had no idea what it was. I love ANY apple recipe, so I’m going to try this soon. It sounds wonderful, and apples are getting plentiful here now. Probably where you are too, huh? Thanks for playing!

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