(I sometimes write little fragments of writing like this. It's not really intended for anything other than a way for me to relax and practice writing. I usually write in a single sitting and then review for obvious grammatical or content issues. My thanks to my friend Terry, whose beautiful orchard was the inspiration for this little snippet.)
It was one of those spring evenings where you could smell the crocuses and the earthworms through warm and partly sunny rain showers failing aimlessly on the newly verdant hillside. The moss had fought a valiant fight this year to claim the yard, but as the days lengthened, the sun drenched the area in an unusually bright March, and the grass was victorious, ripping through the moss until in a period of only a few days, it was hard to remember the conflict that had engulfed the turf only weeks before. The frogs were confused as the weather had been too cold, then too warm, and was just now right. Despite the early hour, some frogs through the neighborhood were croaking in their hollow, wooden sounding rattle.
It was the time of year for baseball, for running in the grass, for daffodils picked by curious children and brought in to wither on a table. It was the time when there is some hope that winter will not last forever, the rain will eventually stop, and that the warm embrace of summer was rapidly approaching. It was a time for opening windows, and shaking out blankets, and deciding to roll a new coat of paint to cover the stains and dings from damage over winter.
It was into this perfect paradise of the Pacific Northwest, this veritable garden of Eden, that Jack strode through that evening. He wore, comfortable denim with an unbuttoned flannel shirt that really looked more like fall than spring. He was out inspecting the orchard.
The orchard was not a professional venture. It was not planted or maintained for the purpose of financial benefit, but rather for the purpose of enjoyment, and leisure. An orchard can be hard work, but Jack worked the orchard because he enjoyed both the labor that he applied and the reward that he gleaned.
This lovely spring evening, it was still early. The plums had been blooming for almost 2 weeks now, but most of the other blossoms were merely peeking out from green, sticky, soft unfolding buds. Some of the apples would come much later. Some of the plants were healthier than others, and Jack stopped briefly to inspect a drooping 6 year old apple tree that was oozing sap. It might be possible to heal, but it seemed to make more sense to replace. Jack might be sentimental with his friends and family, but he was a little bit more matter-of-fact with his plants.
But despite seeming to ignore the helpless plight of the weeping young apple tree, Jack loved this orchard. It was a place of refuge. A place to till and to harvest. A place that he usually worked alone. A place that he shared with others, but only when it was ready. He was generous with his yearly crop. Certainly, he used a lot of it himself between the raw fruits themselves, and the jams, preserves, pies, wines, and ciders that he made. But there was always plenty left for others and there always seemed to be some that went to waste.
And that's what orchards provided. Solitude and fellowship, work and leisure, pruning and harvesting.