There is much to be said about apples in the books, legends, and history of Haven. Trees of the Deep Forest, the oldest known bear book, has two full chapters. And there are countless recipe books in the library and the homes of Haven.
Hegel, so the history books say, first noticed the language of the bees while climbing an apple tree near his home in Whistiglen. And it was apples which helped the bears of his village survive on their desperate journey eastward.
“An apple in the paw makes the second mile shorter,” as the famous saying goes. And though the engineering bears will always be quick to point out that this is not scientifically sound, everyone in Haven would agree that it sure feels that way.
In the earliest days of Haven, when Hegel and the bears of Whistiglen first crossed the Cascade River, they came across a small grove of apple trees, and a few miles from there, the Westward Caverns, where they first made their home. It was apples and acorns which got them through that first, terrible winter (and which also became the title of at least 23 poems and songs).
On the first day there though, Hegel and his companions lay on the soft grass under the apple tree branches, exhausted and heartbroken from all they had come through. And after eating, they tossed their apple cores out toward the river, and so an enduring tradition was begun.
On the first day of fall, right before the harvest, the bears of Haven gather in that same grove, out by the banks of the Cascade River. Each bear takes an apple, and after eating they all toss the core out toward the river, in memory of Janika and Heflin and all the others who were lost.
It is a tradition that has made the apple grove grow very large over the years, until now there are hundreds of trees stretching out through the meadow near the riverbank.
The celebration is called Apples & Acorns, of course, and is followed by a feast and singing at the Westwind Caverns. The feast is supposed to be dishes like those the first bears of Haven would have eaten, but it would be a stretch to say that Hegel and his companions ate twice baked apple pie with chocolate sauce and roasted acorn crumble. No one seems to mind too much though, and even Hegel’s aunt, Benna wrote in her later years, “Give me an apple blueberry muffin any day, especially on Apples & Acorns. I know if Hegel were still with us, he would say the same thing. An apple in the paw makes the second mile shorter, and a muffin makes the third one hardly be there at all.”