I remember assigning Robert Frost’s “After Apple Picking,” along with “Birches” and “Mending Wall” to my first-ever college class. I was twenty-two, and at least one of the seniors in the class was older than I was. A clerical error had given me a class of thirty instead of twenty, and we were assigned a narrow, windowless room on the second floor of the library. The heaters clanged on in August and the noise of campus construction somehow reverberated in that room.
It was glorious.
I loved being a newly-minted teacher, choosing readings and building a course that I wanted to teach (and take). I loved practicing my students’ names so that they would feel comfortable in class (one Thai last name was a real tongue twister!), and I loved watching their ideas spill onto the chalkboard. There’s no better job than being a tour guide through literature.
I chose to teach Frost because we’re in New England, after all, and he’s THE New England poet, and I encouraged my students to get out of the city and see the beautiful blend of colors in the trees. I’ve gone apple picking each fall with Mr. O since we started dating, and there’s nothing like the blue sky and the fiery trees and the red, red rows of apples.
“After Apple-Picking” is a dreamy meditation on life and death, sleep and wakefulness. Maybe we too will look back on moments both missed and remembered, and think,