What the apple tree taught me
April 26, 2010
The garden is a mythological place. It’s the main stage for the beginning of humanity ~ in Biblical terms, that is. It is the showcase of Nature’s riches. And it is the place from which I have learned more about life than just about anywhere else.
You see I have an ancient apple tree outside my office window. I stare at it every day when sitting at my desk, which I do often. It stands strong against the hurling winds with equanimity, just as it plays host to swarms of nearby bees that drink from its blossoms. That is, until last year…
My husband, that merciless plant warrior, pruned its branches beyond recognition after our neighbor complained that its fouling apples dropped too numerously upon his property.
“I’ll be back,” it whispered to me through my tears as I watched the dead branches being neatly stacked for the recycling bin.
The next spring no blossoms sprang from its branches and its leaves were crushed in a hail storm. Haggard and worn, the tree stood in silence as summer folded into autumn, which was soon follwed by a relentless winter that lasted until virtually last week.
As spring finally got around to Germany on Saturday, I worried we’d never see another verdant thing hanging from its limbs. There were indeed leaves emerging, but the blossoms were nowhere to be seen! I found myself comparing a neighboring tree.
“You see! Their tree has blossoms. And ours, well, I suppose it’s all over now…” My own pessimissim surprised me.
Sunday morning I asked my husband if that white reflection I detected without my glasses really was a blossom.
“Nope,” he exhaled, clearly tired of my fretting.
A few hours later, the house was wrapped in silence. The children and my husband were off to their various athletic activities while I sat beside the tree, gazing heavenward.
As I scooped a spoonful of yoghurt into my mouth, I saw it! A merry carousel of buds holding strong against the sun. Then, as if by magic, I detected another and another! It was as if the tree’s promise was unfolding before my very eyes. Funny I hadn’t see it until now…
It had taken a year to recover from the vigorous purging of the old. It had sought shelter against the storm and had meditated in silence, as any tree does: still, patient, majestic in its unwaivering decision simply to exist. Right here. Right now. Just as it is. With or without blossoms.
What I learned from the apple tree is a precious life lesson. I learned there is a reason for every season, that sometimes we are pregnant with hope and renewal; sometimes we are shattered and torn; and sometimes we need dormancy before we can emerge in all our beauty, too.
As I write these last lines, I see the bees are memorizing the tree’s DNA so that, in time, they will drink from its abundant nectar supply once again.
Thank you, my arboresque friend. You are indeed the poster tree for slow!