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Monday
May202013

The Magic of The Apple Tree

I bought the apple tree in our back yard when it was a sapling. I couldn't resist its tiny branches bobbing in the breeze at Lowes. I had wanted to find something for Don's and my anniversary, something living that didn't pee on the carpet. Something to make up for the lemon tree I gave him the year before. That I killed. So I got him the apple tree. It was just the right size to wrap in a bow. The leaves were sprite green and it would bare fruit. That we might actually eat.

We planted it in the far right corner near the fence. The following winter was unusually cold for California. Spring came, but the apple tree's leaves did not. She stood shivering like a child who had done something wrong. Summer came and went. At least in the winter she fit in with the rest of the yard.

Each day I glance out onto the yard for some benign purpose. A squirrel. The dog barked. A hummingbird flit. My eyes would routinely catch site of the tree. A skeleton of weathering limbs. Roots saturated with denial. To anyone else, it was a stunted tree to be pulled and tossed. But I couldn't do it. I had already given up on the lemon tree.

As the years passed, my back began to break down bit by bit, until it crashed, like the lemon tree. I now have a cane I use more often, a bed I rarely leave, nurses with names I know and a scooter with a basket. The people at the dog park view my lawn chair as commitment. Trader Joes hands my friend flowers when she shops for me. I have never known friendship or love as I do now. And I have redefined hope. Hope is no longer what I want to happen. It is instead a knowing that whatever it is, it may not look perfect, but I will grow because of it. For a world that used to spin, mine was suddenly still. There was no place to be. But under that apple tree. So I laid upon its shadow. It was a particularly difficult day after one of my many spine procedures and I simply wanted to be cradled by grass, like when I was a child.

The tree had grown taller, as I had grown smaller, but it never offered a leaf or a bloom. It was as though it had a secret it wasn't willing to share because we hadn't earned the right.

Then just the other day I glanced out onto the yard. For no particular reason. A bird, a rabbit, a leaf. A spritely perfect green leaf. On the tree. The apple tree. But not just a leaf. A white flower with delicate yellow beads flowering from its belly. And another. The branches were filled with leaves, with life. It is said that each flower becomes a fruit. The apple tree was full of flowers.
I could not believe my eyes. I was sure I was wrong. That maybe last year it birthed a bud. Because it couldn't be that the tree was alive. I stared in awe. Of all the years it could have bloomed, it chose now.

So I Googled the apple tree. It turned out she did carry a secret. Evidently, apples are 'self-incompatible' - you need two trees growing near each other to have successful pollination.

The apple tree wasn't dead. She was simply alone. Until I laid beside her. She shouldn't have bloomed without another of her kind. Yet she did. She now blooms when hope needed to be seen by an imperfect gal in the form of sprite green leaves and simple white flowers bursting with possibility, and you realize her season has only just begun.

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