Sunday, November 9, 2008

Paean To A Granny Smith

When we first saw you, you were languishing.
Lichen trailed across your bark.
Caterpillars in swathes festooned your limbs.
Spindly branches twisted everywhere.
You were dark and overhung the garden in the most unhealthy way.
It was hard to believe that you might conceivably produce something edible.


I raked the ground under your drip line.
I applied compost that I'd made myself.
I sprayed you with dormant oils.
I observed you, worriedly.
I pruned you.
I cut off water shoots.
I pruned you some more.
Then I read a book about pruning and worried about my own efforts.

"Looks like you really scalped it," said a friend.

Last summer you sent forth lots of apples, but they were small.
Some were spotted and scabbed and in weird shapes.
It was a promising start.
Still, you didn't look very healthy.
Better, but not best.

Then, this year you blossomed.
Branches burst forth.
Flowers unfurled.
Bees buzzed.
Fruit swelled.

Alas, Max spotted it: a caterpillar nest.
A big one.
And then another big one.

Argh! I thought.
Something in me snapped.
I grabbed my pruning saw and climbed into you, determined once and for all to rid you of those horrible, chewing, nesting caterpillars.

I sawed.
I sweated.
Back and forth.
The entire branch.
I jumped down from the tree, panting.
Then I returned to my senses.
It was a big branch.
I looked up.
There was a very large hole in your middle.
I could see the sky.
I could see a cloud creeping nervously by that hole, no doubt horrified by what I'd just done.

I hid the branch at the end of the yard, in case you felt bereft and went off your laying fruiting. For a week I poured over that pruning book, wondering whatever had possessed me to go nuts and hack you up remove that limb.

Bloody caterpillars.

But that big open space snapped something in you, too.
You sprouted.
You fruited.
You burgeoned.
Your leaves lost their thin, huddled look and sprang into dark, glossy waterfalls of green.

And the apples!

Some of them should have had little blue ribbons attached to their branches, they were so big.

This one weighed 15 ounces.

FDPG was quite taken with it.

Here it is again, sitting beside a sibling.
They are off to become an apple crisp.
We will eat it.
We will be glad you are in the back yard.

And for that, I thank you.

Oh loveliest of apple trees.


shaun said...

Inspiring! Our apple tree is not producing this year, but I must say its apples are awful. Maybe we should make an effort.

Vivian said...

That's some have an amazing green thumb. I swear, you have inspired me to grow fresh fruit and vegetables. Now to find plants that have a chance in my yard.

Glad your family is enjoying the fruit of your labors.