It’s 27. august and Juta of Paavli-Mihkli farm, (where the owners were Paavel, then Mihkel, then Paavel, then Mihkel), gets a step-ladder, climbs confidently to the top, and tugs at (sikutab) the valged klaarid or white transparent apples. They don’t really want to leave the ema/puu (mother tree) yet, but let go into awaiting hands. Later, down the road, a child’s scrunched-up sour face reveals the truth – vara veel! (It’s too early.) Nature’s rhythms and fruitions are seeing a slight lag this year in Estonia. But who’s in a hurry? A biologist speaking on Viker/raadio (the NPR of Eesti), said many pääsukesed (swallows) are currently raising their third brood, which is a good indication we’re in for a long summer, since the fledglings need to be strong enough to migrate.
Valged klaarid are usually the first awaited apples to ripen. They are suvi/õunad (summer or early-season apples), followed by sügis/õunad (fall varieties) and tali/õunad (winter apples), which keep the longest. Many Estonian apple cultivars have romantic names, such as Martsipan, Tartu roos (rose), Sõstra/roosa (currant pink), Lamba/nina (Lamb’s nose), Täis/kuu (full moon), Talve/nauding (winter pleasure), or the given names of people such as Tiina, Lembitu, Koit and even Kikitriinu.
Luckily, there are marathon apples, such as Tellis/saare, which are covered in a natural vaha (wax) coating and keep until next spring, with the best time to enjoy them being from January to April! Thanks emake loodus (Mother Nature), for having so much forethought.