A Classroom Project

Wait until dark. Not milky dark. Black opal dark. Wait until the sky turns itself inside out and you can sidle under the wood fence undetected. Your dog will be conspicuous bounding along in the freedom of the night. No one cares about that. A dog can be in the apple orchard. You can’t. You have a paper bag to fill. Many of the apples on the ground are sound, full, even unbruised—just waiting on the ground like beached whales looking for an ocean. It is a starless night, all the better for you: person of trespass. One slight bend of moon breaks the black sky blue and you can feel it like a knife on your back. Please don’t let me get caught. My second graders want Taffy apples. On Friday we’ll melt the caramels in a crock pot and take turns dipping our fat apples into their sticky coats of caramel, leaving them to sculpt in sweetness on a sheet of wax paper.

This apple heist is charity, sweet happiness for seven year olds who could care less about brushing their teeth, could care less about cavities. The mix of sweet and tart; this is the taste of childhood. Lingering.

Headlights. Lay low. The dog still bouncing, catching the moonlight in fierce nips. The headlights drag along the road—even the car seems to savor this September night. The pueblo-style house sits in the distance, maybe a mile away, the lights fuse the windows yellow. You can feel the current of life inside that house up the road. That house you are hiding from: marauder of the orchid.

Will there ever be a night this magical again? Your bag of apples is heavy as a bowling ball. The sweet glory of the steal. You are the Robin Hood teacher, stealing an apple tasting experience for your Friday afternoon kids.

You’re not doing this just for the kids though. You want your taffy-stuck remembrance of Fall—the sugar ache of childhood that makes your teeth hurt. You want this so bad you steal for it.

Share this
Continue Reading
About the Author

I am a northwest Arkansas writer of mostly poems and essays. I have lived in the Ozarks for over 19 years and have a Pekingese named Tricki Woo after The dog in All All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot.

Darlene Graf
More Posts by this author…