Applehead Gratitude

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A couple of days ago, a rainy and cool morning, I made applesauce. On a whim, I set four apples aside and when the jars of applesauce were processing in the canner Gerry and I peeled them, cut faces into them, and set them on the windowsill to dry.

Many years ago I made applehead dolls with my kids and he had made them with his class back when he was a school teacher. We had different ideas about the fine art of applehead doll making but we came up with a methodology that worked for both of us.

As is often the case when I’m busy in the kitchen, my thoughts turned toward my foremothers–my grandma especially–and I wondered if she ever made applehead dolls with her children. During the years of the Great Depression apples were among the fruit that was shipped to the hard-hit province of Saskatchewan via rail so it’s possible that she was blessed to receive some but she may have considered it sacrilege to “waste” such a precious commodity by making a doll out of it.

Or would she have?

Maybe Grandma would have weighed her options and decide that the fun of making dolls with her children was worth sacrificing an apple for. A few minutes of fun spent carving the faces, weeks of anticipation as the apples dried and shriveled, and subsequent attaching yard hair and sewing clothes from scraps of cloth might have made for a pleasant diversion for my grandma and her children during the harshest years the province had ever experienced. I like to think of her little family laughing and making applehead dolls together.

Fast forward to 2015 and I didn’t give a second thought to setting aside a few apples for some whimsy. We have plenty to eat, my pantry is full, and the local grocery story is well-stocked with anything we should need to buy. As I thought about the life my grandma lived I was reminded how blessed I am to live in a time and place where we have such abundance. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how a simple thing like carving a face into an apple can serve as a reminder that there is much to be thankful for.

Interested in reading more about the art of making applehead dolls? Check out this article at Mother Earth News.



I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.

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