The Old Apple Tree
The old apple tree stood directly to the left of the stone-arched entry and loomed high above the thatched porch roof, continuing up past a weather-beaten red brick chimney, right up to my bedroom window. It's massive trunk was twisted at the bottom as if Mother Nature had started braiding it and suddenly changed her mind. Both of the huge bottom limbs jutted outward like two giant chaise lounges waiting to be occupied. An interesting patchwork of stones in various colors, shapes and sizes were scattered at its base and gave the tree the look of a huge potted plant. After each good soaking rain, the stones glistened like jewels in an open treasure chest.|
In summer its deep jade foliage offered solace and shade from the blistering apricot sun. And from a distance, It resembled a huge weather balloon that seemed to be holding up the stately brick structure. At closer range, there were robins to see, chattering and warding off intruders with their incessant dive-bombing efforts that succeeded in keeping everyone at bay until their offspring were ready and able to leave the safety of their tree-top home. Occasionally a fledgling toppled from the lofty heights and glided the last few feet to safety.
Spring transformed the tree into a wondrous sight. As if by magic, its sprawling branches became laden with clusters of velvet-like blossoms, that danced at my window like a million tiny ballerinas, in their perfumed gowns. Each petal soon fell to the ground, sometimes hastened by a violent storm, and gave the impression of a whimsical pink snow fall. Sweet, delicate aromas drifted into the house through every open window. Miniature fruit, that became autumn's harvest, sprang forth in abundance. A pair of house wrens went about the business of constructing their summer home, and just as quickly moved on, leaving it uninhabited.
Late in autumn, branches overloaded with bushels of ripened fruit groaned beneath the weight, and begged to be relieved of their burden. The two chaise lounge branches welcomed only book-worms. Each sun-ripened crimson sphere was harvested with care, and stored away, like delicate glass ornaments from the Christmas tree, to be savored well into the winter. The remaining fruit was eagerly and thoroughly devoured by the birds. Some fell to the ground and were mingled with the rocks; it looked much like a cobblestone walk-way.
Long after the harvest the tree stood, all but deserted, the last of its russet and amber leaves scattered like old, discarded clothes around the yard. Rustling autumn winds sent them swirling, up over the roof tops. Most of them looked like a convention of butterflies on an autumn tour. The last of the robins moved out, without looking back, they headed for a warmer climate.
In winter the tree took on a grotesque appearance, it stood, stripped naked, unprotected against the bitter cold. It seemed to be keeping watch, like a sentry, at the back door. An ominous protruding limb scraped against my window and cast an eerie shadow across the lawn. After each snow fall its long branches were covered with jewel-like icicles, not unlike the crystal prisms on an intricate chandelier. Over-ambitious squirrels and feisty blue jays seemed to vie for homestead rights in its barren branches.
Each of the seasons gave the old apple tree a completely different and memorable character.
This short story is published in my first book of poems 'Here In My Garden' Watermark Press 1999 Anything goes Challenge
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