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The Life of Johnny Appleseed

 
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Page Contents:

The Life of Johnny Appleseed text
The Life of Johnny Appleseed text with the addition of a spiritual perspective
Send this audio greeting card to a friend
Notes about the creators, Anne and Gary
Notes about the music Spring and its composer, Tony Patterson

The Life of Johnny Appleseed

There is in my mind, a wonderful memory of spring in the form of apple trees in blossom.  Whistling and skipping down a lane is a skinny and barefoot character with a bag of apple seeds on his shoulder and a pot on his head for a hat.  That image comes from my childhood experience with the Disney production of "Johnny Appleseed".  He was one of the many Walt Disney characters that I came to love in my early years. It never occurred to me that he actually existed in the form of John Chapman and that he was in deed a very special, unusual, and real person.

U. S. postage stamp

There is a similarity between John Chapman and some of the unique people I encountered in my life. Like Johnny Appleseed, they did not fit society's expectations. I suspect much of their potential has been lost because we expect them to be "normal". If placed in a time and an environment like John Chapman, what could they have accomplished and added to this world through their diversity?

As the 1800's began, John Chapman entered his manhood with the impossible dream of taking the apple tree to the frontiers of the Midwest. He left Massachusetts alone, on foot, heading for the mountains of Pennsylvania. He soon found himself trapped in three feet of heavy wet snow. That set the tone for John's future. If offered a bed in a warm house, he would choose to sleep on the open ground or under a bark lean to.

On occasion, he would use a horse or a canoe, but his usual mode of transportation was his bare feet which carried him across several hundred miles of Ohio every year as he visited and tended his many nurseries. Even, in his seventies, those bare feet still took him across Ohio to Fort Wayne Indiana, to plant his seedlings for the incoming settlers.

While living a solitary existence, he still became involved in the lives of others when they needed assistance. He helped them to establish their homesteads and taught them survival skills. Stories tell of the Indian attacks when he ran from home to home gathering families and leading them to safety.  
In addition to being extremely intelligent, he was also a very spiritual person, and planted the seeds of his religious beliefs like his apple seeds. He always carried books describing his approach to God and left them with the settlers he assisted.  

He had a deep reverence for the land. Feeling he could not take life, his diet contained no meat, and he often existed on only berries and nuts.

 

Perhaps each of us should look deeper into John Chapman's life.  He showed us that all it takes to be effective in one's life is to have a dream and to work toward making it happen. How much better this world would be, if we took stock of each others' unique capacities and nurtured and cared for them the way Johnny Appleseed took care of his apple trees.

We think that John Chapman would have approved of this beautiful creation, "Grandmother Apple"by Lori Taylor (used by permission)

You can order this print and experience more of Lori's exceptional creativity at her web site.  http://www.singingsprucestudio.com/art-grandmother%20apple%20tree.htm

Grandmother Apple       

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Anne with her Celtic harp

Anne and Gary feel the creative process is an important healing component in our lives, our country, and our universe.  They are continually exploring this belief through creative efforts here at www.collectingconsort.com, and workshops, programs, assemblies and residencies. 

They are members of the Michigan Council for the Arts and Humanities Touring Directory









 

Gary and his antique wooden flute


The beautiful music that Anne was playing during the reading is called Spring.  It was written by our dear friend and fellow musician, Tony Patterson.  A musical recording of this same melody is available on our Reverence CD. Tony is Artist-in-Residence and Staff Accompanist at Alma College and writes arrangements for the choral ensembles.  He is also recognized as a piano soloist and has two recordings to his credit. 

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The following is an adaptation of Johnny Appleseed that includes more of a spiritual perspective.  We have used it in church services. 

There is in my mind, a wonderful memory of spring in the form of apple trees in blossom.  Whistling and skipping down a lane is a skinny and barefoot character with a bag of apple seeds on his shoulder and a pot on his head for a hat.  That image comes from my childhood experience with the Disney production of "Johnny Appleseed".  He was one of the many Walt Disney characters that I came to love in my early years. It never occurred to me that he actually existed in the form of John Chapman and that he was in deed a very special, unusual, and real person.  

As the 1800's began, John Chapman entered his manhood with the impossible dream of taking the apple tree to the frontiers of the Midwest. He left Massachusetts alone, on foot, heading for the mountains of Pennsylvania. He soon found himself trapped in three feet of heavy wet snow. That set the tone for John's future. If offered a bed in a warm house, he would choose to sleep on the open ground or under a bark lean to.

On occasion, he would use a horse or a canoe, but his usual mode of transportation was his bare feet which carried him across several hundred miles of Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Indiana every year as he visited and tended his many nurseries. Even, in his seventies, those bare feet still took him across Ohio to Fort Wayne Indiana, to plant his seedlings for the incoming settlers. 

Chapman was one of the first people to explore these lands.  He would look for a site, often along a stream or river, likely to become a settlement, and there he would clear the land for his orchards.  They would range in size from one to several acres, and John would erect crude brush fences around them to protect the seedlings from the animals.   

When the incoming settlers arrived, they found Johnís seedlings, growing in straight rows in his nurseries and they transplanted them to their homesteads.

Since apple trees grown from seed rarely produce the delicious fruit we know today, the apples were often made into hard cider, a safe source of fluids for the settlers, or dried and used as flavoring in soups and other frontier dishes.   

John would sell his valuable resource to the settlers for a few cents, and because he had no expenses, he eventually became a very rich man through the purchase of land with his meager earnings.

These early settlers found John to be a very strange and eccentric person.  Wearing only rags for clothing, and desiring little in return for his efforts, he was still accepted by the settlers because of the valuable resources he offered.   

 In addition to being extremely intelligent, he was also a very spiritual person, and planted the seeds of his religious beliefs with the incoming settlers like his apple seeds.  

He followed the teachings of the Swedish theologian, Swedenborg.  This philosophy was based upon the concept that everything on earth corresponds directly to something in the afterlife.  So the natural world and the spiritual world are closely connected.   The key to righteous living in Swedenborgism is to do good without looking for anything in return. 

Thus, he was in opposition to many of the settlers that joined him.  They saw their environment as something to be conquered, but John worshipped even the lowliest worm feeling it glowed with divine purpose.  His openness and ability to accept all people and all things allowed him to transcend boundaries that others considered impossible.     

 His deep reverence for the land meant that he could not take life. Therefore his diet contained no meat, and he often existed on only berries and nuts.  

While living a solitary existence, John Chapman still became involved in the lives of others when they needed assistance. He helped them to establish their homesteads and taught them his survival skills that life in this unsettled land required.  

He lived close to the land and was friends with everyone, especially children, and he loved to tell them his stories.  Legends abound about how he was one the animals and the Native Americans as well.   

However, during the War of 1812, some of the Indians united with the British and began attacking the settlements in northern Ohio.  Stories tell of how John ran from home to home a frontier, Paul Revere, gathering families and leading them to safety. 

Perhaps each of us should look deeper into John Chapman's life.  He showed us that all it takes to be effective and successful in one's life is to have a dream and to work toward making it happen. How much better this world would be, if we took stock of each others' unique capacities and our environment and nurtured and cared for them the way Johnny Appleseed took care of his apple trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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