25  05 2008

apple trees

Consider the lillies… (or the Apple trees for that matter) — Matt 6:28b

So I’ve go these apple trees in my front yard–four of them. They are too small to climb and they have only produced apples one of the seven years we have lived here. That was the year my dad stayed with us. He was 79 and my mom had just died. He visited us for three months and one day he said, “we need to work on your apple trees.” I do not have a green thumb was my first thought. I love to grow things, but things don’t love to grow for me. My dad always had a garden. He planted strawberries one year, always tomatoes, a pear tree one year and then there were his flowers. One place we lived had a two acre lot and he planted 50 different types of roses. My favorite were the kind that had a sweet fragrance. He said his favorite was Queen Elizabeth. I took flowers to school every week. If I was ever the teacher’s pet, it was because of my dad’s flowers. I also loved his pansies. They were dark purple with yellow accents.

My apple trees were not in the same category as his plants. Mine had spots and not just a few little spots–spots on almost every leaf. The trees were unruly and he said they needed to be pruned every year. They just needed a little care. I’m not big on pruning. I get my hair cut every 4 months whether it needs it or not. I’m not big on upkeep–I need plants that thrive on neglect. If they make it, they can stay. That philosophy didn’t go over too well with my dad, so we pruned. We watered and we went to the local hardware store to buy something to put on the leaves for the spots. It was maybe a fungus, a virus or some type of bug. Who cares what it is. I was sure we could not get rid of it, but he was determined to leave those apple trees in better shape than he found them and he gave it his best try. I laughed at the store. When we got to the pesticides isle, they all had warnings on them. I thought these might not be safe. Then I thought he’s almost 80, what harm can they do. So off we went with our bag of, let’s just say some form of poison. Dad used my cooking funnel and a mixing bowl to mix the ingredients. I threw that funnel and bowl in the trash that night. No need to try to salvage those. We hauled off 6 large black trash bags of pruned limbs. We sprayed and then we waited. Slowly over months, small sprouts began to appear. The day my dad had his final heart attack that left him bedridden for 6 weeks before his death, he was working on my apple trees. He loved the outdoors and loved to have his hands in nature. I love that he got to spend time at my home in that way.

After his death I came home from his memorial service to find those trees brimming with small apples. I kept the boys (aged 3 and 1 1/2) away from them most of the summer and remember Dad saying early September would be a great month to pick them if the birds haven’t gotten all of them. Those apples grew and grew despite me. One day Ron and I went out for the day in the middle of the summer and left the boys with a baby-sitter. When we came home, in their wagon were my dad’s apples. I was so shook. I’m not sure why those apples represented my dad’s time with me. More than our work together, they represented hope The possibility in life, even when things seem impossible, and somehow the possibility in me even me with my not-so-green thumb. It doesn’t make sense that I can grew something when something had not grown before. I sat on the front porch and cried as the boys proudly showed me their apples. I got my camera and began to laugh as they dumped them all on the ground too green to eat. Max said, “Mommy why are you crying?” Ron explained that the apples were not ready to pick. So the boys said simply, “we’ll put them back, someone get the tape.” It is funny how many things just can’t go back and sometimes it’s okay. Sometimes it’s better than okay.

September came and went and those apple trees have not born one apple since. It’s been 5 years and I’ve wondered should we just cut them down and replace them with something else. What good are they? I don’t have the energy to prune them, water them, love on them and they have not done a thing until… now. This week they have apples and a lot of apples, more than I have seen and on every tree, on every branch almost. I’m left wondering why. I so don’t deserve apples. I have not given those trees one thought much less any attention, but that ‘s when a story gets good isn’t it, when something happens that‘s unexpected, that’s not planned, that’s not deserved, that’s not explainable. My dad and I dreamed of what we’d do with those apples…apple pie, apple cider, apple sauce, apple butter. We would have so many he said we’d need to bag them and give them away to friends. Maybe we could eat them on the porch with boys. We would laugh and dream. I am thinking maybe this September we will do that. You never know if the birds don’t get them or the boys don’t use them during a battle while playing near the trees one day. You wait, you just might be having some apples come your way. So don’t worry about what you’re going to eat, or drink, or wear.

Apples, my apples. Who would have guessed, not me.

Matt. 6:25-31 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you —you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’


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