When I was little, we lived on a farm. We didn’t have cows or pigs or goats or a vast field of wheat or corn, but it was a farm nonetheless with chickens and cats and dogs, and a big garden down below the house that grew a few rows of corn and tomatoes and string beans. And beside the house was a small orchard with plum trees and apple trees.
As a kid, I remember climbing those trees and being afraid of the bees that pollinating the flowers. I remember eating fruit that had fallen to the ground, or throwing it at the driveway where it smashed into pieces, or picking armfuls of apples to make freshly pressed cider in the fall.
Most of my childhood memories involve being outside, hunting for fresh fruit from the trees or ripe berries in the woods. We filled our pockets with crab-apples that were far too sour to be enjoyed, and our mouths with the sweetest sun ripened blackberries. We scavenged the woods for the tart reward of a few bright huckleberries and picked the heads of clover to extract what honey-flavored nectar we could.
Everywhere I lived growing up had fruit somewhere on the property. Usually it was a plum tree, or apples, or blackberries. These things all grow readily in this mild and moist climate, and I can almost smell the fresh crisp aroma of the trees as their bounty ripened in the autumn air.
When I got married, I moved away from the countryside and into the suburbs, where fruit trees don’t grow wild and the blackberry bushes are discouraged as weeds. But that spark of country still resides in my heart, and I scavenge what little I can. I pick apples from my parents’ yard still, hoping to turn my bounty into rich apple butter or nature-sweet applesauce. I scout the back yard for rogue berries, and revel in the various fruit trees my in-laws have cultivated over the years. Though the girl no longer lives on the farm, the farm has followed me to this day, and we are never short some fresh-picked delight from someone’s overflowing garden. And someday, I hope, we will be back on a farm, gathering berries and pressing cider from apples that come from an orchard I can call my own.