The road from Friedberg to Frankfurt is like thousands of other rural roads in Germany. It winds through the softly undulating hills of Hessen, with grain fields and orchards on the left and right. I have driven the length of it a thousand times. One beautiful, warm summer evening in 1973 I was driving along that road with my fiancé, Beth, about half an hour after sunset. The sky was warm and red to the west, and as we came over a small hill, we noticed the rising of a huge papier‑mâché moon over the distant hills to the east.
The road was oddly quiet even though that stretch is well-travelled. We were heading hack to our communal living accommodation in nearby Ober‑Woellstadt Sudeten Str. #15. The trunk was full of groceries and fixings for a party that Beth was putting together for the following day. She had baking and decorating on her mind as I pulled the car under an overhanging apple tree along the side of the road.
Although I had driven by it myriad times, I had never before stopped even briefly to enjoy it. To my delight, it was full of apples – still not quite ripe, but full-sized and inviting. The snap of that apple that I pulled off the tree and polished on my shirt, was just right. The moon was a soft ivory and the sky was not at all blue. It was a greenish color that you get by mixing ultramarine blue, white, and yellow ocher. The scene was idyllic. It could have been anywhere. It reminded me of my childhood in Oregon – the summer fields, the moon, the apples. Then I noticed a difference... Just beyond the road was a small overgrown cemetery. I parted the tall dry grass, and was surprised that the gray headstones were inscribed in Hebrew. Now that was different!
"Come on, Tom! We have a million things to do to get ready for the party," Beth called impatiently from the car. Not wanting to displease my intended, I tossed the apple into the grass, walked briefly back to the car, and drove on. I never learned another thing about those Jews sleeping inconspicuously near the big apple tree by the roadside. I often pointed out the spot to others as we drove by at other times. But it was just an aside.
In the years since then, Beth and I have always referred to "eating green apples under the moon" in place of "smelling the roses," in our own private lexicon. But to me it was more than just that. I have always used it to underline the basic personality difference between the artistic temperaments and the busy practical and pragmatic type. Whenever I feel swept along by the "doers" or the Type‑A personalities, as they are now sometimes called, I think back and wish that I could have persuaded her to slow down just long enough for me to have finished my apple.