Thursday, September 8, 2016

Little Apple Tree

There is a little apple tree in the woods close to the house.You can just see it off to the top right in the above photo from 2010. It is twisted and runty and usually has lots of watersprouts. It is not a pretty tree.

I remember when it was a baby when I first moved here, just a littel spike of a thing, I left it alone because it was not likely to make anything of itself anyway.

The little tree is in the center of this photo, hard to see, when it was in bloom, This was taken about 4 years ago,
 I've never actually taken a photo of it by itself.

My first clotheslines were ropes stretched between the trees in these woods. The little apple tree was too small to be a support but it wasn't in the way. It had its first blooms five years after I first found it. There were no apples on it, though, not that year.

Years passed. I divorced and remarried, had another son. I went off to work and to college. My sons grew up and moved out into lives of their own. Grandchildren arrived and grew up. The little tree was still there, and every spring I enjoyed its blooms. But there were no apples.The bigger trees, the oaks and the persimmons and the ash and hickory, overshadowed it and made it grow twisty. It looked odd but it bloomed and that was enough for me.

Until this year. This year it had about a dozen apples. Two or three were BIG! But most were small and runty. I picked them anyway, and this morning I used some of them to make apple pancakes.

Oh. My. Goodness. Those apples were delicious! Spicy, sweet-tart, full-bodied flavor and just the right texture.

Forty years of waiting. And finally an imperfect crop. But the little tree is still a favorite of mine, twisty and funny looking as it is. Maybe it will give us more apples one day, maybe not. It doesn't matter to me. I'm happy with it as it is.

This tree reminds me of the Aesop's fable of the farmer and his apple tree.

A peasant had growing in his garden an apple tree which bore no fruit at all. It served only as a place for crickets, grasshoppers and sparrows to get out of the heat. The little creatures often sat chirping in the tree's branches.

Disappointed that the tree produced no fruit, the man decided to cut it down.

"Please don't destroy our tree," the grasshoppers said. "Where will we sit and chirp if there is no tree here?"

"Please don't cut this tree," begged the birds. "We sit in its branches and sing to you every day. Would you not miss our songs?"

"Please leave the tree alone," said the crickets. "We rest on its bark and make our music to lighten your work. Where will we go if you cut the tree?"

"No," said the man. "The tree gives me nothing. Why should I keep it in my garden? At least its wood will warm me in my fires this winter."

The man picked up his axe and gave a mighty swing. He quickly discovered that other creatures were living in the hollow center of the tree: honeybees! The large swarm buzzed angrily as it protected its large store of honey.

"Aha!" said the man. "This tree is worth keeping after all. Who knew that it contained such treasure?" He picked up his axe and left the tree standing, and its inhabitants continued to sing, chirp and buzz.

My little tree doesn't hide such treasure. Or perhaps it does, in the sweetness and scent of its blooms, and in the unexpected pleasure of a surprise harvest.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Debbie Couture said...

I think you have to have another apple tree around to fertilize it. We have two in the yard and they take turns having tons of apple. They aren't the greatest in shape but they taste good. Great story. Bernadette got one for her birthday and bought another one to have close by. We'll see how they do.

Jenny said...

I love this. I wonder if you planted the seeds if you could get more trees. Maybe it's old heirloom apple.

We have three apple trees & a pear tree. 25 yrs ago we would harvest bushels of apples & pears but slowly the squirrels have discovered them. I haven't had any apples for a few yrs now & this year, for the first time, not one pear. I also did not have one tomato because of the squirrels. They have so over run our woods we literally cannot grow vegetables anymore....even with my big dog out guarding the garden & chasing them constantly.

I'm hoping I'll outlive the squirrels. At the very least, I've decided to plant tomatoes in containers on my screened porch next summer.

Granny Sue said...

Debbie, we have a lot of apple trees here, many of them wild ones. My best tree is a yellow apple that grew from a seed under the deck! We had to move it after a couple years and now 30+ years later it's still producing. There were wild apples all over this place when we moved here, no doubt seeded from the old orchard that was once across the hill.

Granny Sue said...

I cannot believe how bad the squirrels are where you are, Jenny! What a mess. We have a little trouble with them with the bird feeders but so far they've stayed out of the gardens and fruit. So far...

Brig said...

A great story of your faith in it and the apple's perseverance.

Michelle said...

I really enjoyed this. We keep planting fruit trees, mostly apple, knowing that we may not see the fruit, but someone else will.

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