Tuesday, September 17, 2013

our grove of trees

There is an area of our yard out behind the barn, a patch leading to a steep and wooded slope down to the river, that often gets forgotten.  True, in the spring, it gets a good deal of attention since it happens to be where some of our best sap producing sugar maples are and we visit these trees each day.  We empty the buckets on these tapped trees into a pail and ever so carefully carry them back to the larger barrel in which we collect our sap.  Before we lived here, this area seems to be where they piled yard waste and clippings.  It is mostly shaded, except on its fringes, and a blanket of moss and wintergreen covers the overgrown paths.  Here, so close to the city, we know how rare it is to have a section of our yard be unused, un-landscaped, forgotten.  Wild.

But as we end summer and turn toward fall this year, I am finding myself out in the area a bit more than usual.  There is an old, old apple tree in this grove as well as several wild black cherry trees.  And the blackberry bramble seems to be easing its way into the grove as well.  Crab apples are everywhere, in varying stages of ripeness, and I have been researching a bit to determine how I might use them.  Our old trees, untended, some of them are dropping their fruit.  I scavenge amongst the bramble for the apples.  These trees are so tall that I am quite grateful they do drop the fruit, as I am not sure how I would reach it otherwise.  Jonathan has climbed up with a ladder to shake some branches.  And we spread out a tarp to collect some of the wild cherries where they fell...and parked our cars elsewhere for a bit, as they were pinging off our hoods leaving a sticky residue behind.  If I learn how to prepare these cherries, there are so many more for us to collect next year.

Thus far, I have sauced the fallen larger apples, some with my mother at our camp last weekend, trying to keep pace with the fruit flies that quickly find their way to the soft spots on the fruit when they sit for too long in our kitchen.  Next, for the crabapples, I think I will start with this recipe.  And I am considering a shrub-like potion for the wild cherries, since I am afraid they may have gotten away from me a bit.  My Ball jars are currently standing at attention.

But the amazing thing is when you stop all the collecting and just stand out there in the glen.  The sounds.  Loud thunks percuss as apples, both big and small, fall onto the ground.  And the birds call and chatter and create cascades of fruit and berries as they hop and flutter about the trees.  I spied a groundhog sitting on the stone wall looking out over the area, and then later an entry into his well located burrow.  Chipmunks, their cheeks full of seeds and berries, are scurrying everywhere.

Some time long ago someone planted and cared for and ate from this old apple tree.  I am amazed at what I could have missed if it had not been noisily dropping its fruit as I walked past.  

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