Friday, April 24, 2009

Apple Tree Splendor

This is my humble paean to the hundred-year-old Stayman Winesap apple tree that graces our farm, and thus, our lives.

We moved to our farm in Check (northeastern Floyd County) in October 2000. We've been privileged to witness the tree's blossoming to full glorious bloom nine times.

I wait for this day and when it arrives, it nearly moves me to tears.

I stand close to the end of a low-hanging branch and hold the tip so I may examine the delicate petals of the pale pink blossoms. I sit or lay underneath and gaze up, taking in its full splendor. I desire to be one with the tree when it is in full bloom.

I walk to the top of our long driveway/hill away from the tree, so that I can slowly walk back down and fully appreciate the beauty and magnitude of this stately tree.

Last Spring, the tree was covered with blossoms but one-quarter of the branches did not fully leaf out and held only a smattering of new leaves. Bare charcoal branch were revealed, like it was still winter.

I sought answers to my questions about the health of the tree, but failed to search hard or soon enough. I'm ashamed to say the tree's health became a back-burner issue, I had too much going on and other issues were deemed more pressing. It was summer before we realized that something was truly wrong with the tree.

It was autumn before I thought to track down Tom Burford, an apple tree expert in Virginia. He suggested that we take a leaf sample to a chem lab for analysis, but by then the leaves had fallen and it was too late.

This spring we observed the blossoms developing, but from a glance we could see that those bare branches of last year would not bear blossoms and were dying or dead. As sad as that was, I was thankful that the rest of the limbs appeared healthy.

Today is the day. The one I've looked forward to every spring since moving here: the apple tree is in full majestic bloom. And though, this year, every limb is not covered with blossoms, the tree lives on. The humming buzz of happy bees is heard from the front porch. I hope that you have the chance to experience an apple tree in full bloom, it's a moment to hold in your heart and memory. (Bottom photo was taken in 2008.)

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