I looked at the old apple tree a few weeks ago as we moved in, and remembered my gardening grandpa. He planted the a dozen fruit trees in the backyard as soon as my parents bought the house. I think I remember hearing that he planted them before they got back from signing the papers - without them! There aren't as many trees in the backyard any more, but I love having grown up with them.
The sturdy limbs of the apple tree were full of round baby apples, green and hard. There was an abundance of apples - too many. I knew they should be thinned, so the branches could take the weight better. Grandpa would have picked half of them off so we would have fewer, but larger apples when harvest day came. But we were busy with the moving in and unpacking and the hubbub of the everyday. We'll get to the tree. We will. Just as soon as we...
A few weeks ago, we had a big storm. Thunder boomed and lightning crashed all around us. The wind was blowing fiercely and the rain pelted our windows. It was the kind of night that makes you grateful for shelter, and I loved listening to the wild music.
In the morning, however, we found that the apple tree had not fared so well. Four or five branches had broken when the weight of too many apples was exacerbated by the strong winds. The worst break was a main branch on the front that had snapped along a weak joint. The branch did not beak off, but split open along an extended fissure. Not only that branch was lost, but possibly others along the split. We might have the cut the whole thing off, nearly down to the trunk.
It's a tragic loss that could have been avoided if we had merely thinned the apples when we noticed how thick they were. It made me a little sick, looking at the poor wounded tree. I don't speak for the trees like the Lorax, but I feel for them. In fact, I didn't want to cut off the branch so much that I avoided the task.
Weeks passed, and the end of the branch, once held so proudly, still rested on the grass. It needs to be cut. Really. That sad tree needs some attention. But after a while, I realized that even in its wounded state, the tree was still nourishing the branch. The leaves were not withering and drying out. The baby apples were still growing and ripening.
It's finally applesauce season, and I've got my first two batches simmering in the kitchen. The sweet apple aroma wafts about pleasantly, and I'm still thinking of the tree. I've learned that too many projects will weigh me down. Fever jobs mean that they get done well, instead of having lots of little half-baked tasks to burden me. Too much weigh also makes me less flexible, and I snap when the weather is more harsh. Thin. Prune. Prioritize. Do less, better.
I'm also learning that I, like the tree, am very resilient. Even when I think I am broken, I am still very capable. That's an amazing realization. And I can break and be cut and fall all apart - and still be ok. I'm still here and still puttering around, after all. The tree will still be beautiful without the broken branch. I'm glad we have its stately branches and comfortable shade. And I'm still useful and lovable, even with my warts and faults.
Thanks for the lessons, old tree.