I am learning from the orchard this year. I wrote about it here last winter...the pruning. And then spring arrived, jewel-toned greens and frothy pastels. The orchard was beautiful.
The promise in those blooms was tangible, scented with hope. Within weeks, tiny fruit grew in thick clusters, and Alex called me to the garden to explain the next season...thinning. I was aghast...hadn't we just pruned, cut back, these trees? Could we really throw more away, trusting in a more abundant harvest? He flipped open the book, pointing out truths in carefully organized chapters, "It has been demonstrated time and again that no work in fruit-raising is more important than thinning... It results not only in a much finer product, but it is also a means of destroying the insect-infested and diseased specimens, and of saving the energies and vitality of the tree."
And there it was again, the reminder that in taking away, we gain something better. I am a slow learner. It took the seasons of pruning and thinning before I found the sweetest harvest yet. And what a season it was...
Yes, we had apple scab and rust, and implementing "integrated pest management" (i.e. the company of these pretty ladies) we tackled leaf-rollers (and fondly remembered a college summer spent working with entomologists).
We could have thinned with a heavier hand. We needed a little more help with those leaf-rollers, and we didn't knock out the rust and scab. But by September the limbs hung heavy with fruit. So heavy, in fact, that we had to prop up tired boughs. And, again, I wondered at what I could learn from this...that even when we followed the guidelines, pruned away the excess, we would still need help
bearing the weight. Oh, the lessons in these trees...
I think of the orchardist's text again, the importance of taking away some of the promised harvest, in order to save the "energy and vitality of the tree." The summer was full. But it wasn't too full. And the word for my year, the seeking of "quiet" for my soul? I felt it. I practiced it in saying "no" to some good things. And I felt it at the gift of free afternoons spent by the river and impromptu music made by the campfire and books read aloud on the couch with sun-kissed limbs threaded through mine. The pruning and thinning had yielded these gifts of quiet...sweet, satisfying, abundant, enough.