There is something magical about trees. I have always loved them. It doesn’t matter to me if they are the tall, majestic giants anchoring the forest or the small scrubby things that litter the forest floor. For that matter, I even like trees planted in orderly rows in an orchard. Trees are just the most comfortable old friends a person can have.
I think most everyone has a tree that they remember for one reason or another. Probably even more than one. It might be the tree in your backyard, or the one in your grandparents’ back field that had a rope swing tied to it. It might be the tree your mother photographed you with every year on your birthday or the first day of school. It might be the first tree you climbed, or the first tree you fell out of, or the spruce tree on your front lawn that your father strung with lights every Christmas.
As a child, my favourite tree was a lilac tree. It grew beside our house, along with several others of its kind and a plum tree or three. It was an tall, old tree that reached all the way to the gable window of my bedroom and I would go to sleep on spring nights with the heady scent of lilac inspiring my dreams.
By day, those trees made for the most marvelous place to play. They were old enough to have grown bare in their lower reaches, with only the outermost branches bearing leaves. It left a perfect little space underneath, carpeted with blue myrtle and false strawberry and marked by the little rabbit-trail pathways left by my feet and those of my friends.
We played there for hours at a time, day after day. There was no end to the things you could imagine in that little space under those trees, screened away from grownup view in your own living green world of wonder.
Nowadays, my favourite tree is the grand old man of the forest. An evergreen who rises far above the rest of the trees in the woods, I can see him from the window of my office. He towers over the houses at the end of the street. He towers over the other trees in the woods. He even manages to tower over the sky, drawing the eye away from sunshine and clouds and even the occasional rainbow.
He is grand, that old man. I love him so.
But he’s got some competition for my affections, right here in my own backyard. I have planted several dwarf apple trees, and Oh! how I love them so! Their blossoms in spring bring me so much joy. Their fruit in fall is so eagerly anticipated. But this year, mother nature conspired against us and gave us a hard frost right after the blossoms had opened, and all the blossoms fell off.
A bad year for apples, it seemed to be, without even a single fruit on our trees. How was I going to make applesauce? What would I use for apple pies?
It’s a good thing The Man We Call Dad came to the rescue. Our doggie friend Ginger’s Dad called us up and invited us to go apple picking with them, all the way on the other side of town, over an hour’s drive away for us. The Man We Call Dad said yes, of course (despite the fact that there is a huge pick-your-own orchard not 10 minutes down the road from us), and off he went with the kids in tow.
Apple trees aren’t that tall, unless you are four. Then they are impossibly tall.
Of course, to pick apples properly, you’ve got to get right up there inside the apple tree, or as near to it as you can get. Some kids climb the trees. Some kids fall out of the trees. Ours… preferred to use ladders.
Not long after they had arrived, I got a phone call from The Man We Call Dad.
“How many apples do you want us to get?” he asked me. They were sold by the bag, you see. Each bag was rated for 20 pounds of apples.
“I don’t know. Enough to make some applesauce,” was my oh-so-scientific answer.
They brought home a lot of apples. See this bag?
That bag holds a lot of apples. If you are really observant, you’ll have noticed that The Man We Call Dad is in the background, and it looks like he is carrying another giant bag full of apples.
He’s carrying three more giant bags of apples. Yes, its’ true. They brought me back 80 pounds of apples. In truth, I suspect it is more than 80 pounds, because those bags were awfully full.
It’s a good thing I like making applesauce.