One of the things that drew me to the New Bedlam Farm, besides Rocky and the house was the back yard and the trees. A giant white birch with branches that reach out and up, like a specter guarding something precious. The tall but younger pine that helps form the circle of trees and barns that make the yard feel private and cozy even thought it’s really quite exposed. And the wise old apple tree, with its mysterious hollow trunk, looking like it might pull up it’s roots at any moment and walk away. It’s one of those trees that spark the imagination. Just being in its presence conjures stories of fairies and druids and hidden worlds.
Last year, out first fall on the farm, this old apple tree gave few apples. I was worried about it, thinking it was getting too old to produce. Maybe even dying. I didn’t want to even think about the possibility. But this year, I see, this wizened tree is healthier than I imagined. It’s been a good year for apples, the wild trees in the pasture are full of them. There are fallen apples on the sides of busy roads, something I’ve never seen before.
And our apple tree has produced so many apples, I feel guilty about not using them. A neighbor offered me a recipe for Wind Fall Apples, but I didn’t trick myself into thinking I would make it (actually having the recipe and still not making apple sauce would make me feel even more guilty). So the donkeys and sheep get plenty of apples and the chickens too (and Lenore has enjoyed her share even though it’s not encouraged). And since they’ve ripened and are now sweet as well as plenty, Jon and I eat them when we come across a big plump one.
But best of all, I now know our big old apple tree is going to be around for a while longer. I know it’s been a good year for apples, but maybe it also has something to do with the life that’s come back to the farm. How the chickens love to scratch for bugs in the hollow of the tree, and the cats love to keep watch in its branches. And the donkeys and sheep beg for its apples. Maybe it can sense the appreciation, admiration and wonder I feel for it. Maybe it’s been waiting for us and has more to share than just it’s apples.