11/24/2008

How to Grow Fruit

So few American's see an orchard these days that the work involved in growing fruit is not widely known, especially among the young, so here are few pictures of an orchard..
My wife's family has been growing apples, peaches, cherries, plums and other fruits and vegetables for 40 years at their family orchard. They take a chance every year that the weather will be right, the harvest abundant, the customers numerous, the deer few, and the trucks, plows, tractors and other farm equipment will function.
The pictures, videos and poem below give a small idea of the work involved keeping this family orchard producing fruit (despite man-made and natural obstacles). These photos and videos were taken in Fall during Thanksgiving week after the harvest and markets and before pruning season. Click any picture to enlarge it.





The Fruit of the Orchard


In winter, these trees are not dead.

their strength lies buried,

ready to burst through when next needed,

like humans in the face of disaster

who rely on spirit to transcend

material barriers and weakness

to make the transition

from this world

to the spirit world

across our artificial divide.

in spring, the earth moves below.

Nutrients flow into underground water

to be leached by root hairs

into the trunks of the apple trees

which bring them up through heartwood

to the baby-like hunger of the branches.

the sun delivers its warmth and energy

while the moon pulls the water forth.

Buds explode into flowers that bees

visit to suck sweet flowing nectar

back to their queen in the hive.

Flowers become small apples

in this season of tectonic rebirth.

in summer, the Orchard man steps forth

more strongly. Like a general,

he summons his wife and sons

for their wise counsel, in-gathers family and friends,

marshals tractors, machinery and tools.

also like a general, he feels

the enemy's approach long before

the dust appears on the horizon.

he works to prepare for the opening skirmishes

while dreading the battles that follow.

He squints at the sky and knows it is time.

he musters his people, machines and knowledge

to fight off the most ancient enemies of man:

drought, pestilence, disease, insects, ignorance.

The Orchard man has seen the fury of war

in the Pacific in world War II as a marine.

He knows this will be like al the other wars,

and, therefore, fears the expected surprise.

Too much water, too little water,

Too much sun, not enough sun,

insects and brown rot, hailstorms and lightning,

floods and drought ¾nature's arsenal is endless.

He looks at the sky again and curses the weather.

he stands alone and shakes a fist at cloudless sky.

In fall, each row a cathedral of trees gleams light;

light of pink flowing through the rose windows

of the golden delicious apple trees,

bowed branch nave to the altar

the trees yield their fruit

the way God gives us children

by the unity of seed, spirit,

and organic material blending

over myriad and passing seasons,

through storms that assault and cleanse:

and animals that eat buds and branches

until the fall comes and the trees

form this cathedral of blinding light

and these trees are alive,

these trees want to be handled tenderly,

these trees demands careful, loving,

selfish love before they yield their fruit.

The hands that love these trees

know how to stroke each twig and branch

tenderly so as to yield all its fruit

until the storage bins are heavy

and full and luscious with sweet fruit,

and the full harvest brings full measure.

In Harvest, the feast is set before

the Orchard family's spare table.

The families of apples' dance

a ballet of sweet nourishment:

applesauce sweet rich from the goldens

and johnnies and grannies fills the bowl.

Honey-colored apple juice is poured.

The new baby is fed diced Yorks.

Cinnamon and sugar explode on her tongue

and the fruits of labor, human and divine,

in that very feeding from father to daughter

and from mother to son, ensure again,

the continuances of the eternal plan.


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