The road I drive each day cuts through an ancient apple orchard, curving and winding through farmland that’s long been let go.
It’s mostly overgrown now: the once orderly orchards are now a tangle of meadow and new forest. But there are still old apple trees amidst unkempt land—gnarled with age, and growing so close to the road it’s almost dangerous.
During the height of the harvest, they scatter their abundance upon the road; golden yellow apples, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand drop onto the road, not just one, but hundreds.
And then, these same apples stay on the road for weeks; ripening until their skin splits from the sun, sweetening until the point of rotting. The animals come and partake, and then the birds and insects. But mostly, the apples just lie there, until they’re run over by cars and finally washed away by the autumn rains.
A few times, I’ve seen intrepid folks with apple baskets: light-weight wooden containers that they carry around their necks while they pick. They’ll be out there for a few hours, picking baskets full.
And yet mostly, the apples go to waste.
After all, it’s not an orchard any more—it’s a road through an orchard. It’s almost as if we can’t see the apples outside of our understanding of “orchard” It’s almost as if apples don’t exist for us, when see them out of context.
And yet—here is magnificent abundance: bushels of apples that fall to the ground, then are smashed under car tires as people drive to work, school, wherever they’re headed on a busy morning, windows rolled up against the crisp fall air, minds busy with a million thoughts, oblivious to what is actually around them.
These apples roll onto the very path that we travel. And yet only a few will even notice them. Fewer still, will harvest this abundance.
I stopped the car one misty morning, pulling to the side of the road as communing cars swerved past me. I looked up into the branches of this tree still laden with apples, and smelled their apple smell, and listened to the slow hum of bees droning across the ground, glutted with sweetness.
And then, after I’d had my own fill of this perfect morning, these perfect unclaimed apples, the very sweetness of the bees underfoot ... I got back in my car, and headed on my way. The apples are probably still there, for whoever will slow down enough to see them.
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