Thursday, August 29, 2013

Like Apples off the Tree

I was reading an older post this morning, in which I mentioned hearing the sound of apples falling onto the garage roof from the Black Oxford tree that stands next to it. They've been doing it again lately, dropping like fist-sized bombs and sending my youngest dog running for the window to see what or who's threatening his territory. He's a sensitive little guy, though little is not the best word to use, I suppose. He's almost the height of the big dog, a 90 pound yellow Lab, but half his weight and twice his nerve. I won't say he's fearless, but he does his best to act like it. 

I have four apple trees growing on this parcel of heaven, fifteen or so miles west of the Maine coast. All of them are ancient varieties, the offspring of seeds brought to the Colonies by European immigrants, as are most native Maine apples. You can go to commercial orchards and pick ancients as well as the familiar red and golden delicious and Macintosh. How these four came to be planted here, I have no idea, but I'd wager the largest, the Black Oxford, has been around at least a hundred years, from the diameter of its trunk.

The next largest is a Moses Wood, named for a Winthrop, Maine, farmer who was an early grafter of the tree, and the others are either Summer Sweet or Winter Sweet -- I don't know for sure what they are, to tell the truth -- and produce yellowish-green fruit that are better for cooking than eating from the tree. The Oxfords are a winter apple and really need a frost to bring out the flavor. The Moses Wood, if I've identified it correctly, that is, has had a difficult few years, but it bounced back this month as though trying to make up for lost time. It's been so prolific, I've had to give bags of tangy-sweet apples to my neighbors before they went bad. The apples, not my neighbors.

The little yellow trees are full this year, too, but the fruit are so small that by the time they're pealed, there's little left but the core. They're better for throwing, anyway, or so I imagine a younger version of myself thinking and then doing, trying to see how far he could launch them down the long grassy slope that leads to the hayfield. Much to the delight of the deer that have been feeding there in the evenings.

My tenant, Freddy the Porcupine, who lives under the barn. has taken to munching apples in front of the garage at night. Most mornings I'll find the evidence of his nocturnal snacking inches from the door -- a half-chewed apple -- as though he feels he should leave it for me to finish. I guess it's his way of paying rent. Two years ago, when he moved in, he had the habit of snoozing in the flowerbeds, snuggled up against the house in the afternoon sun. I saw him the other night and he's no more afraid of me now than he was then.

I've been like the little apple trees, it seems, for a long time. Ideas a plenty but none juicy enough to write about. Now, I feel more like the Moses Wood, if not prolific, at least more productive. Pink Hats has been on my mind and like Freddy's apple, "someone" needs to finish it off. Reading over the chapters, a couple of things have caught my attention. We've never really gotten a glimpse of Jessie's inner process, how she got to the place in her life where marrying Bob and becoming an adoptive mother straight off was doable. I've been working on that as well as a post about the conversation between Bob and her father in Untarnished and in Uncharted Territory. I hope, like apples off the tree, they're worth sitting down and biting into. In the meantime, have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

(Creative Commons image of ancient apple trees by gemteck1 via Flickr)

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