Saturday, April 07, 2012

Day 7: Slightly Bereft

Today's prompt was: slightly bereft.  The word bereft comes from germanic roots meaning to rob (which is interesting given the history of the Gravenstein apple).  I spent most of the morning looking at photos of the Gravenstein Apple Show which took place in Sebastopol from 1910 - 1915. It was quite a grand affair and over 25,000 attended the show that first year.  The show featured sculptures of historic places (like Fort Ross) and apple growing scenes.  What I discovered was that the show was stopped in 191 due to the onset of World War I when Sebastopol began to ship off many of it's young men as well as supply the army with dried apples for soldiers overseas.  I began to think about how strange it must have been to ship out down the Petaluma river, following the same route of the apples your family had been sending out for years.  Here's my attempt at a poem for today's prompt:

After the 1915 Gravenstein Apple Show
“The Gravenstein Apple has, above all others, proved to be the money winner in Sonoma County.  It is a healthy vigorous tree.  It always bears a good crop, never over-bearing, as many varieties do; is of the best quality of all known apples”
      –Luther Burbank

After the logging, after the plowing,
the planting, the yield, most hills stood slightly
bereft but ever producing apples.
To celebrate the escalation of
apples sales, the Sebastopol Apple
Growers Union raised a tent across from
the train depot, began the Gravenstein
Apple Show in 1910.  Photos show
uniformed boys lined in neat rows, women
dressed in white floor-length dresses, entering
the sawdust floored tent.  Inside, the warm air
swelled with the tart picked apples arranged in
sculptures that set into form history
of the apple, the town.  Fictions or truths
built out of the bittersweet fruit yielded
gristmills, locomotives, a gold ridge farm.
even Gold, a Petaluma river
steamship that shipped the apples down the slough
to San Francisco Bay.  Until war closed
the fair and that same steamship was loaded
instead with the cargo of men and boys,
their arms still browned from the season’s harvest
their eyes looking back to the golden hills. 

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