The Year of the Apple
Jan. 19, 2009 11:49 am
Updated: Jan. 20, 2009 11:08 am
So I’m watching the latest episode of Wild Kingdom out my kitchen window and a squirrel scampers by holding an apple in its mouth. The squirrel leaps into my herb bed, digs a hole and buries the apple. Then it digs another hole, extracts a different apple—this one has bite marks all over it—and takes it to my garden bench. The squirrel sits on the bench and eats this older, gnawed-on apple with apparent delight. Can anyone explain this behavior to me?
Our ancient, gnarly apple tree produced a magnificent crop this year. To call it abundant would be understating the numbers. In a year when we heard that bees were scarce, I was surprised when our tree was thick with blossoms in the spring. What made this even more improbable was that we laid down a patio this year that extended under half the tree, so I expected the tree to show some signs of distress. But no. It thrived. It produced. It laughed at the feeble humans.
We had so many apples this year that we gave them away to our neighbors. And still we had apples. We made apple pie and apple crisp, apple cake and apple muffins. And still we had apples. I brought bags and bags into the office to share. (A co-worker and I made applesauce and potato latkes!) But was like the apples would magically reproduce while my back was turned.
When the snows came in December, there were apples on the tree. And now that the snows have melted, there are apples still. The birds eat them. The squirrels bury them.
I know this coming year the crop will most likely be small. Surely the tree exhausted itself and needs to rest up. But we’ll always mark 2008 as the year of the apple. Perhaps the squirrels will, too.
How does your garden grow? I'd love to hear from you.
Snowy apples, December 2008