Life is always transitioning, renewing, and yearning to proliferate. But sometimes things get in the way. A Father’s Day visit to Apple Trace reminds me that life needs care and cultivation. We need to be our own gardeners. On this day of fathers and sons, I am contemplating life and legacy as I bend and stoop and struggle to pull the tough weeds that have engulfed the trees in my care.
Apple Trace at Restoration Farm is a living memorial of eight heritage apple trees, planted in 2012 in memory of my Dad, James M. Barritt, Jr. who passed in January of that year. A ‘trace” is a defined as a visible mark, such as a footprint, left by a person, animal or thing. We all leave a visible mark, and the trees remind me of the mark my Dad left in this world.
The weeds are formidable. The trunk of each tree is surrounded by thick growth. Weeds will get in our way, but life needs to be weeded and cultivated. The dirt needs to be tilled. Lack of action is not an option. It may seem like a chore, but weeding is healthy and leads to growth.
We have always wondered when the first fruits of Apple Trace might appear. I discover one tiny apple, about the size of a silver dollar. It is an Ashmead’s Kernel apple, a very old variety. Sometimes good things start small.
Four of the trees are towering, and four are smaller. Perhaps it’s the climate, or perhaps it’s the growth patterns of the different apple varieties. Everything grows at it’s own pace. Just have patience. Just give it time. Two of the trees that were once damaged by a renegade cow a few seasons back are now vigorous and full. We do recover and thrive, even when the damage seems severe.
I work diligently from one tree to the next. I am dirty and drenched with sweat, but the job is done. Weeds no longer choke the trees, the playful spring breeze circulates through the branches and the trees have room to grow. It bears remembering. Make room to grow.
As I am stacking the weeds and debris at one end of Apple Trace, Restoration Farm head grower, Caroling Fanning arrives in the truck and offers me a ride back to the Tin House. I am grateful and hop in, because you should never be too proud to accept a ride from a friend no matter the journey you are on.
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