Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Undying Apple Tree

 We moved into our house in the spring of 1996.  In the side yard, visible from the window where I stood to wash dishes by hand as the well had not enough pressure to make our dishwasher function, was an old, leaning apple tree in spring blossom.

The tree leaned, but it was enormous, as thick as my husband's waist and sturdy inspite having woodpeckers drilling holes through the bark in several places.  My children loved to climb it and I had high hopes for bounty in the fall.

But of course as the fall came on, I was overwhelmed by the amount of apples it produced , and never learned what variety they were in spite of having taken the apples to several farmer's markets and asking the experts.  The apples were huge, and red with green and yellow mottling and both crisp and sweet but with enough tartness to create a wonderful pie and a delicious applesauce.  I canned so much applesauce, but with a couple growing boys, we went through it quickly.  Still there were more apples and that brought the bears, so then there were large piles of applesauce like bear scat in our yard each October.

but after several years the apple tree fell, and I went into mourning.  I had planted a couple other fruit trees in the intervening years, but 10 years after I planted them they were still tiny and barely producing fruit, and the small trees in my neighbors orchard were still small trees with only maybe 40 apples each, and suddenly I realized my giant had been much older than I had thought.  125 years ago my property was a redwood logging company camp. filled with bunkhouse cabins and train tracks.  Now I was thinking the apple tree might have dated from then.

Towering over the apple tree is a redwood, so a redwood cone fell into the branches of the apple tree

 The next summer the apple tree still produced apples and the woodpeckers loved the rotting wood, so I enjoyed both the birds and one last season of fruit

Except it was never the last season and now 7 years after it fell, I have found that some of  the branches which were driven into the ground as it fell, seem to have rooted there and this worthy old tree seems to be setting itself in for reincarnation.  It appears as if this tree is like the tree in the old kid's book, a true "giving tree" that never quits. This year the harvest was more bountiful than ever and I'm excited to see if the bear returns as well.

Some picked last week, 2013

what the tree looks like this year