Ah, the apple. It has been discussed from being labeled as the temptation used by the snake in the Garden of Eden to being glorified as the fruit that insures health—“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Martin Luther is reputed to have said, “If I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.” We’ve probably all watched the Disney cartoon of Johnny Appleseed, John Chapman, who planted hundreds of apple trees in the Midwest.
In fact, I’m a fan of most apples. For many years, my husband and I owned an orchard containing hundreds of peach trees, six plum trees, four pear trees, numerous grape vines, one pecan tree, and about twenty apple trees—one of which was a Granny Smith and one a crabapple. The other eighteen were Golden Delicious apples.
I have to admit I’m relieved we’ve sold that land and no longer have to spray, prune trees, and harvest fruit. I loved canning the fruit and making jelly and preserves, though. There is some sort of nature’s rules that the busier you are at any given time, however, the more likely it is that fruit or vegetables need to be canned that very day. ☺
When I drew Washington as the state for my contribution to the American Mail-Order Bride Series, I immediately thought of those Red Delicious Washington apples that arrive in the stores each fall. I like other varieties, but Red Delicious is my favorite. That’s the variety Santa always placed in my stocking at Christmas. I didn’t taste any other variety until Hero and I were married and he introduced me to Granny Smith apples. Now we eat whichever looks freshest at the grocers.
Pruning and harvesting fruit is a labor intensive activity for which seasonal laborers were required before mechanization. Due to the fact that fruit bruises, care must still be exercised when picking. A hundred years ago, even more families traveled from crop to crop than now, a hard life indeed.
Unless you’re operating an organic orchard, spraying is frequent to discourage bacterial rot and other diseases. Organic requirements vary from state to state, and sometimes are not stringent. The Pacific Northwest does have good guidelines for organic, but that’s a new thing. Nineteenth century orchards did whatever was required to produce a good crop. No farmer could afford to risk the crop that feeds his family.
This year, sadly, horrible fires decimated orchards that had been continuously producing for over a hundred years. The area about which I wrote in PATIENCE, BRIDE OF WASHINGTON, was destroyed. How terrible orchards that had been in the same family for generations were turned to ashes. I hope the families were able to start over, bolstered by hope and a love for the land.
My friend Jacquie Rogers and I decided our brides would be sisters. I chose Patience as the name of my heroine and Jacquie chose Mercy, named after her daughter Mercedes. Patience’s book will be released on December 30th and Mercy’s book will be released on December 31st.
Patience and Mercy weren’t convinced to be mail-order brides by their former coworker. In fact, their father decided that leaving the mill town of Lawrence, Massachusetts was their only chance at a happy life and security. He wrote to the matchmaker on their behalf and only revealed that he’d done so when their prospective grooms answered.
Here’s the blurb for PATIENCE, BRIDE OF WASHINGTON:
After a fire destroys the factory where Patience Eaton worked followed by a succession of job failures, she travels from Massachusetts to Washington to marry the man her father chose via a matchmaker. While Andrew Kincaid appears to be a very nice man, he’s older than her father and not someone she wants to marry. Her prospective groom places her in a respectable boarding house and agrees to give her a job in the office of his commercial apple orchard so she can learn about his life and business. But working alongside her handsome future stepson presents unexpected complications.
Two years ago, an unjust accusation ruined Stone Kincaid’s chance at happiness. Now he concentrates all his energy on building the family business. When he meets his prospective stepmother, he’s angry that his father cares so little for his mother’s memory that he sent for a mail-order bride younger than Stone. He believes Patience to be interested only in his father’s fortune. Stone plans to keep an eye on the attractive woman who’s slated to become his stepmother.
Can two people working at cross purposes arrive at a compromise?
Here’s an excerpt from PATIENCE, BRIDE OF WASHINGTON:
On an April evening, Moses Eaton addressed his daughters. “Several months ago, you brought home something called the Grooms’ Gazette. I saved the copy. After your letter from your friend Roberta, I wrote to the matchmaker, Elizabeth Miller.”
Her father handed each of them a letter. “These are in answer. You will each leave on the same train, so you’ll travel together until Mercy leaves at a place called Nampa, Idaho.”
Mercy’s eyes grew wide. “Idaho? T-That’s all the way across the country.”
Patience scanned the paper she held and her heart broke. “Not as far as Washington. Papa, we’ll never see you and Mama and the boys again. I know we’ve upset you but please don’t send us away in disgrace.”
Mama said, “Girls, you’ve got everything wrong. Your father is only looking out for you two. You know how hopeless situations here are. We love you so much, he wants you provided for and secure.”
Papa smiled at Mama then looked at Patience and Mercy. “Your mother is correct. There are more women here than there are jobs—or suitable men to marry. The way things are in Lawrence, you can’t earn a good wage even if you find a position. My teacher’s salary barely stretches.” He held up his hand. “We’d manage somehow if there were prospects for you here.”
He rose and paced. “Each of your prospective grooms is well-to-do and can offer you a nice home and security. Perhaps you can even travel back here for a visit from time to time.”
Patience re-read the letter from Andrew Kincaid. “He sounds nice, and he enclosed a ticket and money for meals. He said I’d have a month to get acquainted before the wedding.”
“Mr. Isaac Fairchild says the same.” A frown furrowed Mercy’s lovely face as she looked up from the sheets of paper in her hand. “But Idaho is so far.”
“But it’s close to Washington. We can probably visit back and forth.” Patience tried for a positive attitude, but neither she nor her sister had ever been away from their parents or one another.
Her brothers clomped into the room.
Twelve-year-old Jason looked at the adults. “Why’s everyone so serious? What’s going on?”
Papa patted ten-year-old David on the head and smiled at Jason. “Your sisters are deciding whether or not to accept marriage proposals.”
Jason held out his hands. “Tell us who proposed?”
Holding up her letter, Patience gazed at her two brothers. “Papa wrote to a matchmaker, a woman who arranges marriages. Mercy and I have answers. Her groom is in Idaho and mine in Washington.”
Jason rose to look at the globe where it sat on a table by the window. “That’s a long way from here. When would you leave?”
Mercy consulted the letter. “In five days. Oh, my, we have a lot to accomplish before then.”
Ticking off on her fingers, Patience listed, “We’ll each need a trunk and a valise. Let our friends know how to write us. Do the laundry so everything is clean.”
“And we can’t share things since we’ll be in different places.” Mercy rose to get a sheet of paper from Papa’s desk. “We’d better make lists.”
Later in the bed they shared, Mercy said, “I can’t believe Papa wrote away without consulting us. I don’t know whether to be relieved or angry or sad.”
“I’m a little of all those. Thank heavens I never again have to work for a man with lecherous thoughts. I’ll miss our family, but I’ll have my own home and soon my own children.”
“You’re right. Oh, I hope we like our grooms-to-be. Mine lives on a ranch. I hope he’s handsome and strong and rides a white horse.”
Patience reminded her sister, “I remember that Roberta said Miss Miller investigates the grooms before she’ll send a bride to them. She works with agents all over the country. Even if the men are not ideal, at least we know they’re not criminals or drunkards.”
“Four days to get ready and on the fifth, we leave. We’ll ride on a train and see the country and then we’ll meet our grooms. How can you not be more enthusiastic?”
Pulling the cover under her chin, Patience admitted, “I’m kind of excited. I’ve never ridden on a train or been out of Massachusetts.”
“Ha, we’ve never been out of Lawrence. That’s going to change.”
About the author:
Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of historical and contemporary western romances. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.
Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, and getting together with friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, WattPad, Shelfari, and Pinterest. Subscribe to her newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of Happy Is Bride.