Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lessons from the Apple Orchard

Just a year ago, when first we settled here in the Okanogan Valley, this place was altogether foreign to me.  It's the apple orchard that runs adjacent to one of the cherry orchards that surround our home.  The trees are quite old ~ thick, gnarled branches firmly fixed to their sap-saturated trunks.     

When we began introducing our puppy, Maizie, to her surroundings, I began walking her along the perimeter of the property, all the while telling her:  "This is where your roaming ends, Miss Furball." Back then she was small enough to slip through the fence grates so I always kept her tightly leashed. Thankfully that was short-lived (she's now 75-80 pounds).  

It wasn't until Fall that I begin walking the far away fence lines.  It quickly became one of our favorite destinations.  There Maizie would make earth shattering discoveries:  moles & mice, a doe & fawn grazing, bird feathers, the hind quarter of a small deer, coyote droppings, and the like.  It was also where a Mule Deer doe was cruelly cornered by a pack of coyotes in the dead of Winter, and eaten. Blood stained snow told of that tragic episode, but so did my recollection of a disturbed sleep when awakened by the coyotes unmistakable yip-howls the night prior.  The apple orchard, you see, is not fenced.

The other day, while talking to the orchard manager ~ the "master gardener", if you will ~ I was told this will be the last season for this particular apple habitat. The variety grown there, Golden Delicious, are no longer in demand.  The trees will be felled and cherry trees planted in their stead.  Then he'll fence it, too.

It made me sort of sad.

These old, productive, fruit-bearing trees aren't aware they'll be gone by this time next year.  They've done nothing wrong.  They're vigorous and alive, doing just what they've been created to do, full of luscious fruit; loaded, actually.  But it's the wrong kind of fruit for an apple eating audience.

There's any number of life lessons here, but the one that strikes me powerfully in this portrait is how fickle are the tastes of mortals.  What was once good for their bones (and souls) no longer appeals to their appetite.  

Maizie and I grieve the loss of this very special domain.