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1811 English cricket season

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1811 English cricket season
1810
1812

1811 was the 25th season of cricket in England since the foundation of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). Lord's Middle Ground came into use for important matches.

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Rowan Jacobsen is currently a Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT. And we won't hold that against him, even though he's from up the river. But there he is exploring the philosophical and social implications of synthetic biology. He is the author of many books, including these wonderful titles-- Fruitless Fall, The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis; The Living Shore; Shadows on the Gulf, A Journey Through Our Last Great Wetland; The Essential Oyster, A Salty Guide to Taste and Temptation; and of course, Apples of Uncommon Character, the book he will be discussing today and which he will be signing and will be available in the store upstairs this evening. Rowan has also written pieces for Harper's, Outside, Mother Jones, Orion, Popular Science, Audubon, Scientific American, The New York Times, and The Boston Globe, to name just a few publications. His writing appears frequently in the best food writing and best American science and nature writing collections. He has received awards from the James Beard Foundation, the Society of American Travel Writers, and the Overseas Press Club as well as the Green Prize's Sustainable Literature and fellowships from the Alicia Patterson Foundation to write about endangered cultures and animals on the borderlands between India, Myanmar, and China, and the McGraw Center for Business Journalism to explore the disruptive potential of high-tech proteins, so a great variety. And I think we're in for an interesting talk about an interesting topic. So please join me in welcoming Rowan Jacobsen. [APPLAUSE] Thanks, everyone. Thank you, Jane, for that great intro. And thanks to Jane and Diana and everyone here at Harvard who put this event together. This is an incredible treat for me to be able to give this talk directly beneath the glass apples and glass flowers. Raise your hand if you've visited the apples or the flowers before. All right. If you haven't, check it out. I think it is truly one of the great artistic achievements anywhere. I wasn't familiar with them until I got into town about 10 months ago to start my Knight Fellowship at MIT. The glass flowers and apples were one of my first stops. And I think I've been to all the museums in town since then. But they're the thing that I keep coming back to. And to me, they meet my two criteria for a great work of art, which is, one, I just kind of stare at them and shake my head and go, how the hell did they do that? And I still don't quite get it. But then two, they just stay with me. Since I first looked at them, they've been eating at me. There's something about those apples and because they're not just apples, they're apples in states of horrifying disease. Eleanor Leger, the cider maker that you're going to meet later-- basically the mycologists may think they're beautiful. But they're a direct feed out of Eleanor's nightmares. So it's just such a strange and wonderful piece of art. And I felt like there's meaning there that I couldn't quite figure out. So I guess in a way, this talk is my way to try to get at what that meaning might be. And for starters, I would just like to say, happy spring, everyone. Did anyone notice the crabapple on the way in the door right outside the museum? The museum and I have been working with that tree for months to pull that off. I came yesterday to upload my slideshow. And it was all closed. So it opened today at some point, which I really appreciated it coming through for us. But anyway, happy spring. All over Boston right now, the apples and crabapples are opening up. And that's slowly starting to spread northward through New England. We all are used to this happening. But I'd like to emphasize that we shouldn't take it for granted. We had this idea because this is the only world we've ever known, we as human beings. We grew up in this world where every spring things bloomed. It hasn't always been like that. And it doesn't always need to be like that. This is still kind of the next great idea that's happening right now. I kind of think of it as this intelligence that blooms across the landscape, this wild orgy of signaling that starts to happen every spring. But it hasn't always been like this. In fact, it's fairly recent. Like I said, I think of it as of the great ideas. I took a class at MIT last fall called Revolutionary Ventures, kind of famous class there where you talk about what have been the great ideas in history and what might be the next great ideas. So we all had nominations. And MIT being MIT, somebody said, Google AdWords. Best idea of all time. They don't get out much there sometimes. Somebody else said GPS, which I thought was a pretty interesting answer. Somebody said the wheel, which maybe is getting a little closer to the truth. But I would argue that this is, if not the best idea of all time, one of the top three. Photosynthesis is pretty good, too. But if it was totally out-of-the-box idea. And for the first 300 million years of land plants on earth, there were no flowers. There was no real fruit. There was just one monotonous green wave out there. There were only a few hundred species of plants right up through the Triassic and the Jurassic. And they were mostly things like cycads and ferns and conifers, things that used wind pollination, didn't have any reason to look cool. So it was just like most of the dinosaurs just knew this green. In fact, there's actually an emerging body of evidence now that seems to indicate that the dinosaurs actually died of boredom. But not these dinosaurs. At some point in the Cretaceous period, like 110, 120 million years ago, some plant somewhere has this crazy idea. And basically the idea is, hey guys, you're going to think this makes no sense. But you know those annoying insects that are nibbling on us anyway? What if we actually turn that to our advantage? They're going to come anyway. So what if we actually lured them in, gave away something for free that they want, cake them with pollen, and sent them on their way to another of our kind? Forget all this wind pollination stuff that is random and benefits a few big players. We can do direct courier service. No matter where our buddy is out there, these guys will take it straight there. So it was a total-- I kind of think of it as like the Facebook of 110 million years ago, because you had a few big players who had a very simple way of doing things. And then suddenly these new guys came along and said, let's give these guys what they want for free. And they'll have no clue what the actual agenda is. So it's a lot like Facebook. This is either a very, very happy bumblebee or a typical Facebook consumer. But if you think about what they were up to, because of the things they had to do, they had to think-- and by think I mean basically genetic cognition or DNA cognition, however you want to talk about it. They had to start gaming another species. And has anyone read this book by Richard Prum that came out last year? All right, a few. So Prum, he's an ornithologist at Yale. And his point is that sexual selection has been at least important driver of evolution as natural adaptation. So yes, evolution-- species get better at survival in various ways. And that drives evolution. But also, if you can figure out ways to just be incredibly hot to members of the opposite sex, those genes are going to do really well, too. And Prum argues that in certain things like birds and people, sexual selection has been a huge driving force. The peacock's tail is kind of like the great example. But he even chalks things up like human charm and humor to quite probably at least partially sexual selection. You're charming someone else. You're making an artistic statement in a way. So even though Prum is a bird guy, so he doesn't talk about flowers, but I think of flowers as one of the great sexual selection moves of all time. And their particular genius was that they had to use an intermediary, a whole different species that in a sense they had nothing in common with. So they had to figure out what another species would find irresistible and create a system that would work for that. And they're wildly successful. And apples I think of as one of the exemplars of this whole sort of artistic move, because not only-- they're appealing to bees when in the flower form. But as apples have traveled through history and encountered other species like us, they've figured out other ways to further their genes. And a lot of those ways are purely artistic. Some of the apples I focus on in the book exist for no other reason than basically humans found them super hot, right? So this is a Redfield, an apple from the 1930s in the Northeast. Jonagold, some of you might know this one from the supermarket. Granite Beauty, it's a New Hampshire native, always has this cool kind of topographical map look, doesn't taste that good. But it's still here. Api Etoile, closely related to the Lady apple, always has this five-pointed shape. Kandil Sinap from Turkey. And this is a Knobbed Russet, which is an apple that originated in England in the 1800s. And this is a Knobbed Russet on a good day. It always has this kind of like diseased drunkard's nose look to it. And actually once you get past the skin, get it peeled, it's actually a decent tasting apple. But I guarantee you, the only reason this apple has been propagated since the 1800s is to freak out your friends. You can be like, here, want one of these? And it worked. It's a genius move. It's what I would call mostly an artistic move that makes people happy for whatever reason. So as you can see, there's a lot of diversity in the apple, a lot of genetic diversity. And that's just in ones that I feel like have a nice artistic edge. Obviously, there's apples that are good at everything, from making pies to making cider to being fresh fruit. So to understand where all this genetic diversity comes from, we have to go back to the beginning to Kazakhstan. Here's a shot from the Tian Shan, the heavenly mountains, which are the border between Kazakhstan and China. And this is the apple's homeland where it evolved millions of years ago. And there are still forests in these foothills that are like 60% apple trees. So in spring or fall, it's like the full Dr. Seuss truffula trees everywhere. And this was the only world the apple knew for a long time and made its fruit to appeal to large mammals in the area, probably like bears and horses, stuff like that. But then its big break came. Maybe like 500 BC the Silk Road starts getting set up between Rome and the Persian Empire in the West and China and the East. And the paths on the Silk Road go right past the Tian Shan here, right past the apple's homeland in here. And the apple is ready. It kind of waylays these travel-- kind of like the thing in Alien. It waylays travelers, gets its seed in their belly, and goes from there. So these were probably the travelers it had in mind for waylaying. But then bonus, it gets these guys, too. And this was the real break, because people fall in love with the apple and spread it everywhere. So all the way from Rome to China, suddenly there's apple cultivation going on. And the key fact of the apple's whole career and the thing that is still surprisingly not that well known, and I actually didn't know until I started researching apples, is that apples do not come true from the seed. So if you take one of these seeds from this Golden Delicious and plant it, the tree that grows up will not have Golden Delicious apples on it. It will have some apple that has never existed before, because the seed is a unique mix of genes, half from its Golden Delicious mother and half from its mysterious father who sent pollen over on the back of a bee. If you want to make more of a variety of apple, like if you want to be more Golden Deliciouses or more Macintoshes, you have to keep those genes exactly the same. So you have to take a cutting from the tree and propagate it asexually, take that cutting, graft it to a rootstock so the genes don't change. Basically you're cloning it. So every Macintosh in existence is like a clone of a clone of a clone of the original seedling that sprung up on a Canadian farm in 1811. Same thing for every variety. Every seed is going to be something new and different. It could be the next Honeycrisp, you never know. Probably not, because you can kind of think of every variety of apple that's become famous as an amazing poker hand. So it's like a royal flush, a really unlikely deal of the genetic deck. And as you know if you play poker, if you take two great hands like straight flush and a full house and mix them together, you usually get squat, right? Same thing with apples. If you take two great varieties and mix their genes together, you're most likely going to get a little green sour apple. But you never know. You could get the next Honeycrisp. One in 1,000, one in 10,000, it's something miraculous. And apple guys have known this for a long time. Thoreau actually talks about this in the last piece of writing he ever wrote the year he died, 1862. It's called Wild Apples. Great essay. Anyone read it? Yeah. He said, "Every wild apple shrub excites our expectation thus, somewhat as every wild child. It is, perhaps, a prince in disguise. Who knows but this chance wild fruit, planted by a cow or a bird on some remote and rocky hillside, where it is as yet unobserved by man, may be the choicest of all its kind. And foreign potentates shall hear of it and royal societies seek to propagate it." This painting by Magritte, which I love, kind of gets at that prince in disguise possibility that every apple holds. And we can track the careers of some of these apple princes, because there have always been apple geeks around back to Roman times. And they've always been interested in the lineages. And there's great apple books going all the way back to the 1700s. So we know about some of these super unlikely apples. Every one is kind of like a one in a million chance, because it has to be some seedling that grew up that probably nobody wanted. It has to not get eaten by a cow, has to get big enough to have fruit, and then has to have somebody notice it and go, this thing is amazing. I want to make more of it. And that happened some in Europe during the apple's earlier past. But in Europe, the land use patterns were different. They kind of didn't lend itself to letting the apple really spread its wings and go crazy, because you had landage entry. You had people who understood grafting. You had professional gardeners. So they tended to work with the varieties they had. Yes, new varieties sprung up. But really the apple had to wait till it got to the New World and a bunch of yahoo Yankee farmers who didn't understand anything about grafting for it to just be able to try out every genetic possibility that it could. And that's what happened in the colonies, because the colonists all brought apple seeds with them from England, or from some cider mill. And they just planted seeds like crazy. They didn't understand the whole grafting genetics thing. But they also didn't care that much in a way, because most of those apples were just going to go to the livestock or the cider barrel. And either way, you can get by. You don't need great apples for that necessarily, although Eleanor will speak to that later. The seeds that did turn into trees that had amazing fruit, they would seize on those. And pretty quickly, like by the 1700s, there was a lot of grafting going on. And the thing is, for whatever reason, the apple just has this great genetic range where it can do lots of different things. So colonists picked apples that could fill gaps that they needed. So there were apples that would come ripe in August. And there were apples that would come ripe in October. And there would be apples that came off the tree hard as a rock in November, sour, starchy. But then you put them in your root cellar. And three or four months later, those starches had turned to sugars. And you had fresh fruit in March, which back then there was no other way to get. There were other apples that made spectacular cider and became known as the pinot noir of the day. So there were apples that were drying specialists and jelly specialists. There were all kinds of specialist apples. And there were apples that just looked cool. So I wouldn't say it made life possible in the colonies, but it definitely made life sweet. And so that's why you would go to a typical New England farmstead and you would find dozens of different apples of every shape and size. By 1904, the USDA estimates that there were 7,000 recognized varieties of apples in the US, mostly east of the Mississippi. It was this golden era of agrarian grassroots farmers acting like breeders. That doesn't happen today, of course. And so certain of these apples are closely associated with New England and have played strong roles in New England's history. Rhode Island Greening was one of the very first ones, probably originally sprung up right here in Boston then got well-known in Newport. It's kind of the Granny Smith of its day-- big, tart, green baking apple. Porter was another one that was well known in the day. And one of the interesting things to me about Porter is that it would've been the first apple to appear in the Boston markets. And it's a type of apple that has now gone out of style. We kind of think every apple needs to be as explosively crisp as a Honeycrisp, like it should just detonate like a fruity Cheeto in our mouth when we bite into it And that type of apple has always been appreciated. But back in the day, they also appreciated other kinds of apples. And the Porter was a kind that they would have called a melting apple. It was almost more like a pear where it would have this tender, juicy flesh and really thin skinned. And it would so be a very different sort of eating experience. And what I found is that if you come to every apple with an expectation of super crunch and it doesn't have that, it seems disappointing. But if you don't have a plan on what that apple's going to be like, then there are a lot of different ones that could be really interesting. So then the Porter, because it had that thin skin and soft flesh, would be real fast, in and out of the markets in a week or two. And then the Baldwins would come in. And Baldwin, most famous apple of New England probably, originated right here just up the road, maybe 20, 25 minutes, and became the most important apple in the country from maybe the 1850s to the early 1900s. Has anyone had a Baldwin? Wow, OK. This is a good sign for the future of apples. A lot of Baldwin eaters. So as you guys know, it's like a big, beautifully red, classic sweet-tart apple flavor. It was a really firm apple. So it could be shipped. It was one of the first apples that shipped well. And so a lot of farms seized on the Baldwin. It became the number one commercial apple in New York and New England. And what I like about-- it was so important that a little while, like 100 years ago, somebody put up a Baldwin apple monument up in Wilmington. It's just a few months off the interstate. It's well worth visiting to get a sense for how seriously people took apples back in the day. The story of the Baldwin, which this monument kind of tells. The first tree sprung up on a farm up in Wilmington. There was a surveyor who was up there in the 1740s, noticed this tree with these big, beautiful, red apples on it, tasted them, thought they tasted great. The tree is pretty old by then. And there was a woodpecker living in a hole in the hollowed out center. So he referred to the apple as the Woodpecker. And then New England being New England, that got shortened to Pecker. So for a long time, this was known as the Pecker apple. And I feel like it would be so New England if it was still known as the Pecker, like that was the famous apple of New England. You can see some grumpy old man saying, I like Peckers. But there was a Colonel named Baldwin who got really excited about the apple and took a lot of cuttings of it, passed them around to everyone in Boston. And the apple got named for him, the Baldwin, and became such a big deal that they put this monument up to it. But my favorite thing about this particular monument is that people would make-- I think they wanted to make pilgrimages to worship at the place that this sort of apple celebrity had first appeared. It's like Graceland or something. So whoever put up this monument was clearly concerned that they couldn't get the monument exactly where the first tree had been, because that was private property. They had to put it on the roadside where they had this little park that had been donated. So if you go around to the side of the monument-- [LAUGHTER] In case you really need to go worship at the spot, it's like, you can get there. So the apple that may have played the biggest role in New England history is the Roxbury Russet. Raise your hand for Roxbury Russet. Right, very good. About the same as Baldwin. This is a style of apple that, again, was out of style for a long time and I think now is hopefully coming back. People didn't like Russets because they always have this look. They kind have this yellow golden skin, but it's all sandpapery. You might have encountered these. And it's off putting if you're used to a super shiny, waxy apple. But Russets almost invariably have a spectacular flavor to them, a really complex, sort of tropical fruity, almost like a brown sugar flavor to them. They're my favorite apples. Anytime I see a Russet, I go for them. And the very first one in America was the Roxbury Russet, which actually it's the oldest variety of apple in America. It started off right here, Boston. You're looking at Beacon Hill right there. This is, I think, 1620 maybe. So the very first European settler in Boston was a guy named William Blackstone, who liked to be alone. So he came to Boston and built himself a little farmstead. And the first thing he did was plant a bunch of apple seeds that he brought from England. And so the very first orchard in America sprung up right in Boston Common. And every one of these would have been their own variety, because they came from seed. And they're lost to history now mostly. But they would've been the very first American varieties of apples. And William Blackstone had, like, five years of isolated bliss here. And then the Puritans showed up, which he was not happy about. They moved in on him. And he tried to stick it out for a few years. And then he was like, well, neighborhood's gone to hell. I'm out of here. Sold them his 50 acres, which is now Boston Common. And he abandoned his orchard. But he took a bunch of seeds and cuttings and headed down to Rhode Island and lived much more happily and much more tolerantly down there and may have started the Rhode Island Greening, actually. But either one of these trees was the very first Roxbury Russet or a seed from one of the apples on these trees was the very first Roxbury Russet. And it's called Roxbury Russet because these orchards of those apples started getting grown right down in Roxbury. And there he became famous for them. Roxbury Russet was also my introduction-- it was my real realization that the world of apples that I'd grown up with, which was basically like two varieties in the supermarket, was like a sad little pale shadow of what the world of apples had been. And for me it started-- I bought a farmhouse in Vermont like 15 years ago. And it came with a bunch of gnarled old apple trees in the back field. And one of them had these crazy Russet apples on it. So I think I tasted them in September when we first moved into the house. And it was terrible. It was super sour, super starchy. So I just thought, Russet apples, they're awful, ignored the tree. And then it was that November, the first snows came. We'd already been through a bunch of freezes. So I thought the apples would already be history, would already be mush. And then these golden balls started falling on my lawn. So I tasted one. And it was incredibly sweet, incredibly delicious. I couldn't believe it. And it was still really crisp. So I thought that was interesting. And I was just thinking about apples. And I was reading Thoreau's apple essay, Wild Apple. So this was at the beginning of my very brief Twitter career. I posted this photo on Twitter with this quote from Thoreau, "all apples are good in November," seemed like a very poignant moment to me. And immediately some troll replied that it's amazing how everybody thinks they can tweet the most inane sentence, name somebody famous, and think it sounds right. So that was the end of my Twitter career. [LAUGHTER] I suspect this may have been a Californian, I guess maybe. I don't know, somebody who clearly knew nothing about New England, November, or apples, because-- Or Thoreau. Or Thoreau, exactly. If you've ever experienced the moment of pathos, of the cold coming-- it's New England, it's November, you're staring at six months of winter, and suddenly you've got these golden balls of sweetness on your lawn-- there's something there that gets at a lot of the complexity of life. And it struck me as poignant. And it struck me as extra poignant, because my little dog was eating the apples faster than I could gather them. So here's somebody who definitely understood apples and November and New England. Does anyone know? Yeah, I heard it down here. Joseph Warren, III, one of the most important people in the early days of the Revolutionary War. The Warren family were the ones who popularized the Roxbury Russets in Roxbury. It was called the Warren russet for a while. I think there's still-- is there still a Warren Street in Roxbury? Yeah. Yeah. So their homestead was right there on Warren Street. And they really were sort of like one of the big families in the area and made this apple famous. So Roxbury Russets-- this guy's father, Joseph Warren, II was one of the main orchardists. And I think was like around 1755. He was harvesting his Roxbury Russets. And remember how I'd said that it's a very late ripening variety. In Vermont, you don't get them until November. Here, it was late October. Joseph Warren, II is up on his apple ladder. It's icy. It's like misery. He's trying to harvest his Roxbury Russets, slips off his ladder, falls on his head, breaks his neck, and dies, leaving his 14-year-old son, Joseph Warren, III to end up bonding and having this sort of father-son relationship with another well-known local, Sam Adams, brewer, son of liberty, and just general revolutionary bad-ass. Sam Adams was one of the most outspoken proponents of independence. And he kind of took Joseph Warren, III under his wing, helped raise him, and inculcated him in the ways of liberty. So by the time 1775 rolls around, Joseph Warren is actually the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, which is kind of like the shadow government that the Americans have set up. The British do not approve. British have taken control of Boston, because they can tell where this is all headed. And Sam Adams is scheming for revolution. He's out with John Hancock in Lexington in John Hancock's family's place. The British know that the rebels have been amassing all these arms out there. And they decide the time has come to head out there, grab the arms, and arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock. So it's actually Joseph Warren who-- he's got spies in town. In fact, there's some evidence that one of the spies was the British general's wife. So who knows what's going on there. But somehow Joseph Warren finds out the plans early enough to tell Paul Revere to get out there and tell everyone. So Paul Revere rides out, rouses the rabble. The militias are ready. They meet the British before they can get to Sam Adams and John Hancock. Shots are fired. People die in Lexington and Concord. British get chased back into Boston. And the siege of Boston and the Revolutionary War begins. I find this map crazy, because here's Boston. Boston was such a peninsula back in the day. Here's the Back Bay. It was the Back Bay, like this is all-- here's the Charles River. Here's Cambridge, Harvard. The only way in and out of Boston was through this little isthmus here that was known as the Boston Neck and went straight into Roxbury and basically straight into the Roxbury Russet orchards. So the British kept bottled up here. The rebels take occupation of the Warren Roxbury Russet orchards and set up their riflemen there. And any Brit who pops his nose out gets shot by one of these riflemen. Meanwhile, there's other-- George Washington arrives, sets up base right here at Harvard actually in the yellow house in Harvard Yard down near Mass Ave. What's the name of it? [INTERPOSING VOICES] Longfellow House. Longfellow House, yeah. So Washington sets up the Longfellow House, organizes the troops, and basically just tells them to stay put, because he knows he's got the British bottled up. They set up some cannons in the Dorchester Heights, Dorchester. And so for nine month-- the British general actually writes back to England complaining. He's like, these guys, they're hiding in these damn apple orchards. We can't get a shot at them. They keep picking my guys off. It's hopeless. They try a couple of things. Battle of Bunker Hill goes down. Joseph Warren, III actually dies in the Battle of Bunker Hill. But basically, eventually the British pull out. And Boston has been in American hands ever since. So if Roxbury Russet was not such a late-ripening variety, maybe Joseph Warren, II gets up his ladder and down, harvests his apples. There's no ice, because it's not late October, doesn't slip, doesn't die, doesn't leave his son to bond with Sam Adams. Maybe Joseph Warren, III doesn't light quite the fire under Paul Revere's ass to get him out on the road to save his father figure. Maybe the British get out there early enough before the militias have gathered, route the Americans, the entire Revolution goes in the other direction. And today we would all be eating Cox's Orange Pippin and playing cricket. [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] You've all heard that we're in a post-truth era. I like to think of these as pre-truths. So part of the reason I called my book Apples of Uncommon Character is because I had this idea of some of these apples as having a lot of personality and taking charge of their own destiny in a way. And there's another apple that I think of as like the Forrest Gump of apples, because it turned up at so many famous moments in history almost randomly. And it's the Newtown Pippin. If you get a chance to look at the wax apples upstairs, there's actually models of all of these apples that I'm talking about tonight, coincidentally. So Newtown Pippin was a big New England apple. But it's really closely associated with New York, because it's the only apple variety known to have originated in one of the five burrows. The first one sprung up in Queens in the 1720s. And everyone who tasted it seems to have loved it. It had this pine note that a lot of them comment on. And all the old apple books raved about it, like Cox. One of the famous apple books called it the finest apple of our country and probably the world. By the 1750s, it's the apple of New York City, the Hudson Valley, Long Island. All the orders are growing Newtown Pippins. Ben Franklin discovers it and goes crazy for it, so much so that when he is living in London a couple of years later, he actually has barrels of Newtown Pippins shipped over to him. And then he starts handing them out to his friends. He's like, hey, check out this great apple. And Pippin mania takes hold in London. Everyone starts paying exorbitant prices for Newtown Pippins. And they become sort of like the first great export apple of the New World. All the Hudson Valley guys are shipping their Newtown Pippins to England for exorbitant prices. At that same time, the French and Indian War flares up in New York State and Pennsylvania. And so remember, this is pre Revolutionary. This is like 1759 or something. So it's actually the British and Americans fighting together against the French in Canada and their native allies. And one of the people who comes to fight for the Americans is a guy named Thomas Walker, who's an orchardist down in Charlottesville, Virginia. And he was a doctor. So he came in to help the cause. They lost. But he was an apple guy. So while he was there with the army in New York and Pennsylvania, he kept noticing these Newtown Pippins. And he thought, man, this is a great apple. I wonder how it would do down in Virginia. So he took a bunch of cuttings, filled his saddlebags with them. After the war ended, went back to Charlottesville and took up doctoring again. And one of his patients and best friends was a guy named Peter Jefferson, who dropped dead two years later. So maybe Thomas Walker was a better orchardist than he was a doctor. But when Peter Jefferson died, he left Thomas Walker as the steward for Peter's young son, Thomas. Did Thomas Jefferson taste his first Newtown Pippin from the hands of Thomas Walker? Almost definitely, I'd say. All we know for sure is that when he did taste them, he loved them, so much so that it was the number one apple he planted at Monticello. He thought everyone in Virginia should go big into Pippins. And they actually did. They came out even better in Virginia than they had in New York, a little bit bigger, a little bit sweeter. They were great apples, still hard enough to ship to England. And Jefferson thought, oh man, we could make a killing on these things in Europe. He actually, when he was ambassador to France a few years later, wrote excitedly back to James Madison that they have no apples here to compare with our Newtown Pippin. So they actually do make a killing selling the apples, especially in England, so much so that they start to crush the native apple industry in England. America's orchards are so much bigger than these little family farms in England. The apples can hit the market cheaper. And basically the English apple growers are going out of business and freaking out. So in a Trumpian move, they slap these huge tariffs on American apples and basically shut down that whole thing to protect their local apple growers. This situation lasts for a few decades until Queen Victoria takes-- shortly after she takes the throne. She was like 18. It's like 1838 maybe. And the American ambassador to London is a guy named Andrew Stevenson, who just also happens to be one of these Charlottesville orchardists, part of the Charlottesville apple mafia. So Stevenson is like, hmm, I wonder if I can get rid of this whole tariff issue. So he actually has some of his own apples shipped over to him, slides a couple baskets to the queen, and what do you think she thought? [LAUGHTER] Word comes back that they were eaten and praised by royal lips and swallowed by many aristocratic throats. So the queen says, this is ridiculous. We must have our Pippins. She lifts the ban. And the Virginia guys have a field day again for a while selling apples to England. So apples, they're riding high, late 1800s. And then the whole thing withers and dies. And who knows why? Any guesses? [INAUDIBLE] Oh, that's an excellent guess. And there have been issues like that throughout apple's career. [INAUDIBLE] A parasite disease. In this case, the thing that really brought apples low were first was the temperance movement, leading to prohibition. Carry Nation starts taking her ax to wooden bars and then to actual cider trees, because a lot of these great apples were known purely for their cider. They were the equivalent of great wine grapes. So they had no purpose except to make alcohol. So as soon as the temperance movement came on strong, they all got chopped down. And actually it happened earlier than I would've thought. In that Wild Apples essay of Thoreau's in 1862, he was already worrying that all the cider trees were going to disappear. And they mostly did. Basically cider just became associated with a louche lifestyle. It became socially unacceptable. It was not cool to have a cider tree in your yard. At that point, if you wanted to do the cider thing still, it all went underground. I love this sign. I think it's like World War I at this point, right around prohibition. This is some mill that's like, hey, if you still got cider apples, send them to us, because our boys want vinegar on their beans. But this is the thing that really crushed the apple industry in New England and elsewhere in the east, industrial agriculture. Early 1900s, the national distribution systems are starting to get set up where you can grow something in one place and get it everywhere. Supermarket chains are starting to appear. And they don't want to buy local stuff. They want to have one national supplier. And just then people in Washington State are discovering that out in the high desert plains east of the Cascades where they get, like, 361 days of sun a year or something and they've got irrigation water from the Yakima River, they can grow apples. They basically did to the east what the east had done to England a century earlier. They can just grow apples incredibly well that are big and fat and super sweet and actually kind of boring, I might say, my New England bias showing. But Washington State went huge into apples and is still the dominant player in apples. And of course, the supermarkets that were buying these apples from Washington State didn't care about having a bunch of varieties. Basically all of us one generation removed from the farm lost our apple literacy and were quite happy to buy one of the two choices of apples that were in the supermarkets. So basically everything you see here is a clone. It's just like rank after rank of clones. And that many clones is never a good idea. It never ends well. And here, of course-- thank you. I was going to ask for cackle. You guys are right on it. The villain of our story, Red Delicious. This was the apple they seized on. And it's all our own faults, because we bought them all in the supermarket. Like many super-villains, Red Delicious actually started off as an earnest Midwesterner. It popped up in Iowa in 1881. And then the mutations turned it to the dark side. So it was always considered a great apple. But then every now and then, there'd be a sport of Red Delicious, like one branch that had suffered some mutation. And the apples came out different. And over time, people kept finding these versions of Red Delicious that the skin got redder and redder and redder and thicker and thicker. They lost the flavor genes along the way. But what they learned is that people would always buy the redder and better looking apple in the store, flavor aside. And now the industry term for the color of a Red Delicious is midnight red. And as you know, the skin is so thick that it's impenetrable. This made it the perfect widget for supplying this whole national system, because it could withstand all kinds of dings on the way to the market. So Red Delicious took over and crushed most of the small family orchards in New England. So the other thing that sort of helped Red Delicious achieve complete, total domination was the Washington growers came up with a system they called controlled atmosphere where they found out that when you pick the fruit in fall, if you basically flooded it in nitrogen gas in the warehouse, got rid of all the oxygen, you would send it into a state of suspended animation where it would basically stop aging. It would totally stop-- fruit likes to breathe when it comes off the tree. And if you get rid of all the oxygen, just suspend it in nitrogen gas, you've frozen time in that apple. And it's basically-- it's not far from the wax apples upstairs. It's kind of like The Portrait of Dorian Gray apple. I always worry, like, these are the ones we see in the supermarket right now. And they look perfect. But I always worry that for every perfect apple like this I see in the supermarket, there's a glass apple here at Harvard getting creepier and creepier and creepier. Fortunately, some of these old Jedi masters are really hard to kill. So even though we lost many of the great apple varieties, there's still these trees out there that are 200-plus years old that are from that golden era of the apple in the 1800s that are hanging on and waiting for the Padawan learners to come learn the old ways from them. But you have to find them. And the places you tend to find them are the places that didn't give themselves over to big ag, to soybeans and corn, and didn't pave over everything, basically places that held on to their old farmsteads or let these fields and forests regrow, i.e. New England a few spots in the Appalachians, places we can still feel the palpable touch of history. And the thing is, if you can just find one of these trees that was lost along the way, one of these varieties-- you just need one tree-- you can take cuttings from it, make new trees, and bring the variety back into existence. And there's people who have devoted themselves to doing that. The most famous is a guy named John Bunker up in Maine who runs Fedco Trees. You might have heard of that. Over the past 34 years, he has tracked down and rediscovered about 80 varieties of apples that had been lost and now sells them through Fedco. And he has some interesting ways of doing it. Because we have these old apple books that have really excellent descriptions of the apple-- not just illustrations, but they also describe every detail of the apple and the tree-- you can make a pretty good ID, if you can find one. And the books also talk about where the apple was found, because most of these apples really were regional. Sometimes they were only known to a town or two. So what John will do is he'll look at the books for an apple that he's really excited that he hopes to try to find. And he'll actually go to that town to the general store or the post office. And he'll put up wanted signs for the apple. You know, if you've seen this apple, please call Fedco. And there are several varieties that have been recovered through this technique. But the other thing he does is he'll go to the county fair with his display of crazy apples. And it's just a magnet for everyone from age three to 93. So this line forms. And people go up and like, oh, Baldwin. My grandmother had one of those. I used to love eating that apple. But then there's also people who will have the mystery apple in their hands. And it's like Antique Roadshow for apples or something, because they'll be like, hey, we just bought this old place. There's this crazy tree in the backyard. I think it's something really rare. Can you ID it? And it's really like Antique Roadshow, because usually it'll be like, yep, you got a Macintosh on your hands there. But every now and then, he finds one of the ones he's looking for. And when he does, he gets out his Sharpie, writes his contact info for the person right on the apple, and will track them down later and get cuttings and bring it back. So one of the wonderful things about this whole hipster heirloom apple revival is that cider is once again socially acceptable. In fact, cider is being recognized again as probably New England's great drink. And it's turning out that for all the reasons that apples are good in November, all the reasons that New England is always a challenge, New England probably makes the best cider in the world. So for a few minutes now, I'm going to turn this over to someone who can talk about why that's true and how you make that happen in much more of a boots on the ground way than I ever could. So I'm going to turn it over to Eleanor Leger. And then I will come back, try to wrap it all up, stick the landing. And then we get to go drink Eleanor's cider. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. So I'm going to focus on the thing that got me excited about all of this, which was even before cider, apples. And yes, my husband and I met on a freshman outdoor program trip many years ago. He actually was a geology major. And his work study job was working in the catalogs here, picking up weird boxes of small things that were unidentifiable and figuring out what they were. And in the true spirit of wandering through life and figuring out what you're going to do with it, he did go on to get his PhD in geology and do some scientific research. And I did go on to do some economics and business stuff. And then 11 years ago, we bought this place, which didn't have the green thing on it at the time or the sign, but did have one of those incredible 100-year-old trees that had been split by a lightning strike and still continued to grow. And it had a pasture with the right kind of soil on the right kind of topography and facing in the right direction to maybe plant some apples. So just about 10 years ago, we started planting crazy heirloom apple varieties. Some come from John Bunker Fedco Trees and by way of also another orchard out in the Finger Lakes. And it really started with our excitement about these apple varieties. Like Rowan, I grew up with, as we all did, the two varieties in the grocery store. And we have 52 varieties in our little 1,000 tree orchard. Our program for growing them is very much what you would have used back in the 1700 or 1800s. We don't use commercial sprays. We make compost teas and do a lot of composting. And that's about it. We're trying to grow a healthy environment for trees to fend for themselves. So the apples don't look perfect. I recognize a lot of the things that are going on in the ugly apples up there. But they have amazing flavor. And here's the thing to think about. Cider is like a big-- everybody's talking about cider now. Most of what you get today in the cider world that's not very expensive is cider that's made from the apple varieties grown for the grocery store market that didn't make the beautiful grade for the grocery store and have been in cold storage. And they're making it like beer. Every four weeks, they get another bunch of apples out of the cold storage, press it, ferment it really fast and hot, and then make sure that it tastes all right by adding things back to it before they put it in a can and put it out to the market. We think about cider as they would have at the time that all of these wonderful crazy varieties were grown. If the apple is ripe in the fall, that's when it's got peak flavor. And of course, if you're in northern Vermont, this is what happens to your orchard in the fall. This is October 18 a couple of years ago. It was 18 degrees. We had two inches of snow. And we had to run out and pick everything right then. But this is our little orchard. And why do they make such great cider? And you'll taste this in the ciders tonight. You have complexity from using multiple varieties. They have great sweetness, so their alcohol is going to be a little higher. Our ciders tend to be 7 and 1/2 to 8 and 1/2% alcohol. They have great acidity, which means that they can ferment without creating all kinds of off flavors. And they have tannin just like wine grapes have tannin. So these apples, I say, are as different from grocery store apples as wine grapes are from grocery store grapes. And we treat them like wine. We make the cider like wine. You're going to taste a still, dry cider. It aged for a year in a tank and then two years in a bottle. You're going to taste a cider that's bottled conditioned, that's a single variety from Kingston Black, which is a traditional British cider variety. It's kind of the pinot noir of cider varieties. So you'll get to see what one apple can do. And then there's this crazy thing called ice cider, which is like an ice wine. So it's a sweet dessert style. And that's a blend of 15 different heirloom varieties. And about 20% of that blend is the Roxbury Russet that you heard all about. So look forward to sharing that with you. And you can come up and ask me questions. I'll be around all evening. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] So there's actually a rule at Harvard that you have to quote Richard Feynman in every talk. So this is mine. And this is from a lecture he gave at Caltech in the '60s. And he's talking about how it takes a universe to make a glass of wine. But where he says wine, just think cider. "If we look in a glass of wine closely enough, we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics-- the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflections in the glass, and our imagination adds the atoms. The glass is a distillation of the earth's rocks. And in its composition we see the secrets of the universe's age and the evolution of the stars. There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization-- all life is fermentation." I think it's kind of crazy perfect that we're going to get to taste these ciders up in the rocks and minerals room upstairs, surrounded by the best signs of deep time you could ever have, because it'll make you that much more aware that it takes a universe to make a glass of cider. Somebody else who thought about these same things was Paul Cezanne. From that Feynman quote, I get this idea of the apple and from the glass apples of an apple kind of bringing its entire experience to the table with it, and not just its experience, but all the random moments of history, all the energies from deep time bouncing around and somehow coming together for this moment in this round thing. That was some of the reason Cezanne decided to focus on apples so much. He famously said, "With an apple, I will astonish Paris." And in a letter, he wrote about why he chose to use them as his subjects. He said, "They come to you with their scents, speak to you of the fields they left, about the rain that nourished them, about the sunrises they observed. In capturing with fleshy strokes the skin of a beautiful peach, the melancholy of an old apple, I see that they share the same bittersweet shadow of renouncement, the same love of the sun, the same memory of dew." And that actually brings me all the way back to the glass apples. Cezanne's idea that here's this thing, and it's had this experience, and the experience shows on it, and I'm capturing that in this moment when it happens, I'm capturing that melancholy that some apples tend to show. I love that idea. But compared to the apples that Cezanne was painting, this is an apple that's having a hell of a day right here, right? So I think one of the things that strikes me so much about the glass apples is that they are capturing these biological things in what you might call this wabi-sabi moment of high biological panic. The end is near. But it's not over yet. And these apples are-- the tension here is because, of course, there's so much time that's happening right here. Your sense of time happening is palpable. But Rudolf Blaschka froze it forever in this moment. And I think that tension is really interesting and something as biological beings we can all sympathize with. So I think I'm going to give Thoreau the last word here. And this is something he would have said if he had lived a few more months. If he had risen from his deathbed in 1862 and made it through one more New England winter, as we all have, and as he came around the other side and as spring arrived, he would have risen from his bed and grabbed his glass and offered a toast. So thank you. And I think both of us would be happy to answer questions and then head upstairs. [APPLAUSE]

Contents

Honours

Events

Debutants

1811 debutants included:

References

  1. ^ a b Note that scorecards created in the first quarter of the 19th century are not necessarily accurate or complete; therefore any summary of runs, wickets or catches can only represent the known totals and computation of averages is ineffectual.
  2. ^ Haygarth, p. 365.

Bibliography

  • Haygarth, Arthur (1862). Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744–1826). Lillywhite.

Further reading

  • ACS (1981). A Guide to Important Cricket Matches Played in the British Isles 1709 – 1863. Nottingham: ACS.
  • Altham, H. S. (1962). A History of Cricket, Volume 1 (to 1914). George Allen & Unwin.
  • Birley, Derek (1999). A Social History of English Cricket. Aurum.
  • Bowen, Rowland (1970). Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development. Eyre & Spottiswoode.
  • Major, John (2007). More Than A Game. HarperCollins.

External links


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