Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Apple Trees

My two little apple trees are the apple of my eye.  They are small, and young, and live just a few steps from my back door.  I've kept my eye on them winter and summer, ever since I planted them fall-before-last. 

Coincidentally, one is called "Freedom" and the other "Liberty."  Naturally I prefer the Latin-derived name, but I love both trees as a mother loves her twins.

Last fall, a year after they were planted and had their bottom branches sheared off by an early ice storm, both Liberty and Freedom surprised me with a harvest of several apples each.  This spring they were covered in blooms and, because they stand close to the house's south-facing wall, the late frost that decimated apple crops all around barely touched my little trees.

There were no bees on our land this spring.  Still, enough wasps and ants and bumble bees showed up to ensure that the majority of flowers swelled into fruit.  Consulting the books rather than my emotions, I plucked and discarded most of those baby apples. 

The ones that remained grew as fat as the surviving pups in a litter.  A couple dropped off last month, but now, just before harvest, Freedom has eleven apples, Liberty ten.  They are round and shiny, and they glow red in the setting sun. 

Because I spray neither organically nor inorganically, my apples are bound to be imperfect.  Freedom's apples are larger, but they have a soft, round, brown spot each, which means they will spoil right after I pick them.  I'll have to dry them or freeze them or slice them carefully for eating raw.  Liberty's apples are smaller, with no visible blemishes, but I'm sure some living thing--worm, fungus or bacterium--has made its home in their core and is racing me to the finish.  I'll have to harvest the apples at their relative best, and do my best to make some use of them.

I'll let you know how it all turns out.  

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