Updated: Mar 24
August is a month of watering and waiting on the homestead. The heat-loving summer garden is kept alive by our regular irrigation and a deep layer of mulch. Soft fruits are pouring into the kitchen in overwhelming bounty and cucumbers are piling up in the fridge.
This morning as I went out to do the morning’s chores, I noticed that the first of the early apples had begun to drop from the tree. This tree was one of the first apple trees we planted on our homestead, and it is grafted with four different varieties including one very early, soft apple, the Yellow Transparent. In the years since we planted it, we have come to know more about what we want in a fruit tree, its root stock, and its hardiness. But we are grateful for this little tree and the progress it has made in the face of rocky soil and destructive elk.
As I gathered the Yellow Transparents and brought them in, the bright, clean, early apple smell made me stop and cup one in my hands to breathe it in. The aroma of these first apples reminded me of walking through the agriculture building at the county fair as a child. I was fascinated by the piles of beautifully arranged produce. That building represented years of toil and tradition, pride and pain that farmers of this valley had invested in drawing abundance from the arid landscape.
Fascinating--the power that a scent has to draw us to a memory. The memories from childhood are so deeply buried that they are often forgotten until something sweeps us back to them. When Kindra gathered a few of the Transparents, she held one up to her face as I had, breathing deeply. Her memory flashed back to an apple tree in her grandparent’s yard. She spent childhood hours climbing that tree, swinging from a horizontal branch that was close to the ground. It grew near the outhouse in the southeast corner of their yard next to a fence that was engulfed in Rugosa roses. That tree represented the idle hours of her childhood spent daydreaming and the happiness and safety of time spent under Grandma Rose's care.
The Yellow Transparents left on the tree will be ripening soon and I’ll slip off the netting covers that have protected them from pests since spring. Once they’re off the tree they won’t last long, their waxy skins giving way to the soft flesh underneath. But while they last, they will remind us of the gifts of late summer fruit, toil and plenty, and memories of years gone by.