Living in Place

If Trees Could Talk

After about ten years, Mr. Deeley's apple finally bore fruit. In good apple years, it still does.
After about ten years, Mr. Deeley’s apple finally bore fruit. In good apple years, it still does.

About twenty years ago, Richard Deeley invited Tim and me to visit him at his home in Jamaica, and to bring a shovel – he wanted us to dig up a tree.

Tim gathering apples.
Tim gathering apples.

We knew Mr. Deeley from his visits to our Mom and Pop Doc Shop, where Tim cared for patients and I ran the practice. Mr. Deeley was in his nineties by the time I met him, and he arrived to his appointments in a well-brushed coat, creased pants, ironed shirt, and tie. His courtly manners matched his attire; his presence delighted us all.

On Sunday, we picked as many as we could process and made applesauce and pie.
On Sunday, we picked as many as we could process and made applesauce and pie.

On the appointed day, we drove out to Richard Deeley’s home, where he told to take any and as many trees as we wanted for the bare land around our recently built home.

There was one tree, in particular, that Mr. Deeley wanted us to have: a small apple, just over a stonewall and surrounded by saplings of second growth forest filling in an old pasture.

Apples everywhere!
Apples everywhere!

Set against the larger backdrop of a looming forest, the tree appeared tiny. Digging it up, however, proved otherwise. Once wrestled out of the ground, the tree filled the back of the pickup and hung over the tailgate by a good five feet. When we arrived home and dragged the tree to the hole we’d dug, however, it seemed to have shrunk again, to a pathetic, windblown specimen oddly out of place near the young sugar maples taking root at the edge of the lawn. We planted it anyway. [Read More…]

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