Monday, September 21, 2009

September Brought My First Apple Tree

"The tree of life my soul hath seen,/ Laden with fruit, and always green..." Elizabeth Poston
My dedication to apple trees began when I was young. I lived in a house built around the 1890s and set on property with what we called a “second yard.” This means that behind our house, the land was terraced by a stone wall, which itself was divided by stone steps leading to a lower grassy lawn. This “second yard” overlooked the vast acreage belonging to a lumber company. Evenings and weekends, when the lumber company was closed, my sisters and I explored the woods and swamps below our home. It was in these acres that most of my childhood adventures took place. It was here that I discovered apple trees.
Down the stone steps we went one day, my parents, sisters, grandparents and I for a Sunday afternoon ramble. Crossing the length of our second yard, we climbed through the bramble hedge, down the hill to a dirt road that curved through the woods and fields to the lumber company’s storage buildings and workshops. It was September with its endless, bright blue sky; tufts of golden rod and Queen Anne’s lace bloomed along the dirt road below great leafy trees just gaining touches of gold and orange. Summer’s humidity vanished, the air held the promise of crisp, cool weather though the sun felt hot on my head and shoulders.
I’m not sure what we were looking for, but we found an apple tree. We wandered down the dirt road, past the huge, aluminum sheds where the lumber company kept their toothy saws, startling as sleeping giants, and piles of planked wood still scented with the sharp vitality of sap. We were walking in clumps; I, the daydreamer, lingering behind. Avoiding the trash dump, which was considered dangerous because of the rumor of wildcats lurking there even in daylight, we left the road and tramped through the meadow thick with clumps of hay, spent blackberry bushes – grasshoppers leaping before us.

The tree stood on the edge of the meadow. Tall and rounded, the tree’s branches sagged with the weight of heavy, yellow apples. The sun’s heat was scented with their ripe fragrance – a tart scent that tumbled fresh air and roses together. As he began to pick them, my grandfather declared that they were Golden Delicious and that they were perfectly ripe.
Maybe it was the warmth of the fruit picked in the sunshine, maybe it was my grandfather’s exuberant enjoyment, but the apple quenched my thirst with a flavor distinct and bright and as refreshing as its scent had been enticing. We picked all we could carry and went on our way. After that September, I searched again for the apple tree, so obvious and fragrant on the edge of the meadow. Something inside, a thirst awakened, urged me to keep looking though the rest of my family had lost interest. But the incomparable flavor, the memory of the tree so generously laden beckoned me. I checked back later in the fall, expecting to find it, but I couldn’t. I remember asking my family exactly where it had been and steered my adventures all winter to that part of the land below our second yard. Eager to see the blossoms, I searched again the following Spring, searched all through the summer. I never found that apple tree again. But searching the woods for love of it led me to discover beautiful and magical things that have sustained my imagination and beckoned me always to search for the unexpected and generous inspiration God gives. I can picture that first apple tree still, the fragrance so sharp and clear, the fruit fulfilling its daring promise of beauty and substance.

4 comments:

  1. Stunning. I'm so refreshed each time I read one of your posts. Truly it takes a rare person to invite someone in through the sticky strands of the world wide web to adopt your lovely vision and live, for a moment, your life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Darling Sister,
    Such a gift! Thank you for your words. I do remember standing under the apple trees, with grape vines twisted among their branches. The aroma of apples fallen onto the ground mixed with the grape leaves remains with me today. Autum brings so many wonderful memories we shared. No wonder Golden Delicious remain my favorite apple, even today. Stefanie

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a beautiful post Loris. I loved reading it and it brought instantly the memories and first of my own...reading your posts is like going to an art gallery or design studio to me--leaving my creativity is awakened and I feel a new interest in these art forms.
    Dave

    ReplyDelete
  4. Beautifully written...a legacy in words and syllables.

    ReplyDelete