Year after year, autumn after autumn, the same trees here are photographed, from every angle, in every light. I have pictures of them when I could touch their tops.
It reminds me of parents who take pictures of their children from the moment they are born, through every stage, on every occasion. The albums are memories that can be seen and their children are now taking pictures of their children!
So it is with “my” trees, each of which has its own story and each of which becomes more spectacular every year, every day, in this season that no poet has ever been able to really describe. Perhaps Edna St. Vincent Millay said it best, “O, World, I cannot hold thee close enough …”
Soon, if it has not already occurred, a driving rain or a wild wind will wreck in an instant what has taken Mother Nature weeks to create from her palette. We watch in awe as a green leaf turns to red before our very eyes as another’s leafy branches suddenly are laden with fruit and another becomes a golden candle.
A young hickory tree is such a candle and I speak to it fondly while mowing nearby. I remember the day Don and Ester Hollinger of Lisbon, both much older than I at the time, brought it as a seedling in a pot.
It had been, Don said, the biggest hickory nut he had ever seen. I know Ester has passed and am not sure about Don, but their memory is very much alive within this special tree.
A Kieffer pear tree I planted maybe 20 years ago as a gnarly whip has been so laden with fruit the last few seasons that its branches are permanently bent and remind me of a hand twisted with rheumatoid arthritis.
The Bartlett planted at the same time has never been thrifty. I picked only two of its pears today hard as brickbats.
The flowering crabapple planted by a dear friend, long departed, in honor of my retirement 23 years ago, and the one in the pasture cemetery appear red from a distance, so thick are the little apples on their branches. The birds will feast this winter.
Each tree has a special memory for me, and like all the rest, I have pictures of them in various seasons.
So with the birches on whom I spend more than I do for my own prescriptions. They are fed and sprayed twice a year and in the fall their spangled leaves should seemingly chime like wind chimes.
I cherish the silver maple at the end of the driveway. I nearly went to jail a few years ago to keep First Energy from mutilating it! I won.
I could continue to rhapsodize about my “children” but there is other news to report. (I was going to write about a 1927 cookbook, The Art of Cooking and Serving by Sarah Field Splint which has some hilarious suggestions like “Table Service in the House With a Servant” and Company Dinner With or Without a Maid,” but it can wait.)
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Remember “Who,” the beloved horse of Judy Handwork? She lost him eight months ago, and at 65 with dubious health, wasn’t sure she could take on another, but home wasn’t home without a horse.
Now there is “Second Chance,” a 4-year-old Morgan-Paso Fino, unbroken and terribly abused. He’d been gelded with a pen knife and was several hundred pounds underweight.
Well, guess who is now almost too fat and who follows Judy around like a puppy? “Chance” doesn’t know he is a horse yet, and Judy has no plans to break him or to ride. He is simply a member of the family and is the best possible therapy for anyone who needs an excuse to get up in the morning no matter how you might feel.
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And speaking of horses, Apache and Toby are in their glory with the pasture greening and the weather having banished the flies. When I call them in — that is Winnie’s job and when they hear her bark they know it is time to eat — they come galloping against the background of autumn leaves and my throat closes and my eyes sting and I count my blessings. As I do daily.