We have the remnants of what was once a thriving orchard here on our farm. It was planted as a high school project by one of my husband’s uncles who grew up here on the farm. The orchard has provided many a dish of applesauce and many a piece of apple pie. Her humble two rows of trees became the aisle down which our son’s bride walked to meet him. The Snow apple tree held a branch strong for the baby swing that swung our little ones. Another uncle, a free-stylin’ bachelor who farmed here before us, told us about the apple blossom balls he would host during apple blossom season. The men, he said, would arrive in their coat tails and the ladies in their ball gowns and they would have an old-fashioned ball out there in the orchard. For years, I had an older woman from Guelph come here every August to get her Duchess apples from the old Duchess tree because they make the best apple pie.
Time, weeping bed repairs, and ice storms have taken their toll on the gnarled, aged limbs and many of the trees have needed to be culled, but the Harvest, St. Lawrence, Northern Spy, and that old Duchess still bravely bear on. And, every spring, we are treated to a show-stopping array of blossoms that is full of life and promise. This spring was no exception.
The early morning light showcases the blossoms in their finery and one morning I was out in the orchard to capture them with my camera. A bee was doing what bees do in the blossoms and her busy work stirred some petals loose from their fastenings. Then the breeze rustled the branches and still more petals let go. Let go. The letting go made me think of something I heard said or that I read somewhere about the leaves in the fall and that they are a lesson in letting go. That thought led to the realization that if an apple tree didn’t let go of her blossoms, she wouldn’t bear fruit. Might the letting go be a needed step in fruition? Could a tendency to cling stifle the growth of fruit?
Watching the blossoms drift to the ground also reminded me of the seasons of life and the need to “let go” of one season to move into the next. We are a culture that is fixated with youth. Aging is something that is met with reluctance and is best avoided. How silly! Do we not realize that the only way to avoid aging is to die young? We say someone has aged well and generally we are referring to someone’s appearance. Interestingly, when I think of my Gramma Shantz who aged well, I don’t think of her appearance as much as I think of her gentle and sweet spirit and her kindness to all. Might we be missing the fruit in aging by clinging to a spent season of youth? Could we be invited to a process of aging that allows for a robust harvest of fruit which has been nurtured by a longer life experience?
Spring is winding down and we are on the cusp of Summer. Summer brings with it a season of fruit. As we wipe the sweetness of strawberry dribbles from our chins, might we take note of where we can let go and make way for potential fruit? When we taste that first peach, could we remember the invitation to embrace life’s seasons and age with a grace that is beyond skin deep?