A late November storm blew in last night, carrying blasts up to 70 mph. Our power went out twice during the night and in the dark of early morning, all I could see were rivers of rain running down the south windows of the house. It was in dim dawn that it became obvious–the wind had swept what it could with its indiscriminate ferocity. The full garbage can was pushed over, releasing wrappers and soaked kleenex into the surging tide, sweeping out to the road to attach, waving in surrender, to the barbed wire fence on the other side. Lawn chairs that had been piled against the garage were toppled and broken, arm-thick maple branches lay fractured in the driveway.

The saddest casualty was right outside our kitchen window. A ninety some year old apple tree had toppled in the night, silently giving up under the barrage and pressure of the blow. The old Spitzenberg tree, the favorite variety of Thomas Jefferson, had been failing over the last ten years. It was rotting centrally with holes that housed squirrels and their treasure trove of filbert nuts, and bearing fruit that was startling red and sweet but diminishingly small and scabbed, dropping to the ground beneath like so many drops of blood. Blue jays loved the branches and quarreled relentlessly with the squirrels over prime real estate and mountain view property in the crown of the tree.

No more. As it was eased on to its side in the night storm, swept up in the torrent of air and rain, it went quite peacefully, gracefully with nary a broken branch as they reached out to touch the ground, almost gratefully, breaking neatly at the base of its trunk, not even disturbing the sod. The roots remain covered underground, still clinging to rocky soil, with no where to pump to any longer. The old tree had simply bled out.

Before it becomes firewood, we will cut scion wood for grafting to preserve this antique apple, attaching it to a younger vital stronger tree for future generations of humans, squirrels and birds. It will live on bearing fruit in a way that makes me almost envious. My fruit bearing years are long past. I won’t be salvaged when my innards fail me and a puff of wind topples me over.

The salvage is needed now before I’m swept away by the storms.

5 thoughts on “TreeSwept

  1. Before I finished reading, Emily, I was hoping y’all had gotten some rootings. Wow, what a rare jewel. Not sure, but shoots MAY come from the roots. Please don’t disturb that spot till after there’s warm weather. I’ve had black cherry shoots come up from the rootstock a d’anjou pear was grafted to, so it’s quite possible that tree has another life in front of it, but grafting to younger trees is prudent.

    My winter jasmine started blooming today. My friend from college gave me a shoot three years before she died, so she got to see it bloom and every winter now I see the laughter in her eyes every time I look out back and see those little yellow blossoms.


  2. Emily,

    Unfortunately, I ,too, relate to your ancient apple tree. Doggone it, your a physician. Figure out some way to graft me on to some adonis; I want to start life’s journey all over. I hope you can make me better looking in the process.



  3. Alas! For me it was the plum tree in the garden that succumbed. And yet, the roots are still attached and perhaps there will be blossoms and fruit in 2012, only it will be presented in a horizontal manner. Don’t you just love the possibilities that attend such changes….


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