Talking Apples

wormhole

applesauce

I liked how the starry blue lid
of that saucepan lifted and puffed,
then settled back on a thin
hotpad of steam, and the way
her kitchen filled with the warm,
wet breath of apples, as if all
the apples were talking at once,
as if they’d come cold and sour
from chores in the orchard,
and were trying to shoulder in
close to the fire. She was too busy
to put in her two cents’ worth
talking to apples. Squeezing
her dentures with wrinkly lips,
she had to jingle and stack
the bright brass coins of the lids
and thoughtfully count out
the red rubber rings, then hold
each jar, to see if it was clean,
to a window that looked out
through her back yard into Iowa.
And with every third or fourth jar
she wiped steam from her glasses,
using the hem of her apron,
printed with tiny red sailboats
that dipped along with leaf-green
banners snapping, under puffs
of pale applesauce clouds
scented with cinnamon and cloves,
the only boats under sail
for at least two thousand miles.
~Ted Kooser “Applesauce”

appleoctober

Smelling the Sweetness

applesdown

kingapple

A scent of ripeness from over a wall.
And come to leave the routine road
And look for what had made me stall,
There sure enough was an apple tree
That had eased itself of its summer load,
And of all but its trivial foliage free,
Now breathed as light as a lady’s fan.
For there had been an apple fall
As complete as the apple had given man.
The ground was one circle of solid red.

May something go always unharvested!
May much stay out of our stated plan,
Apples or something forgotten and left,
So smelling their sweetness would be no theft.
~Robert Frost “Unharvested”

applefall

gravensteinwindfalls

October Quivering

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photo by Josh Scholten

 

photo by Josh Scholten

photo by Josh Scholten

 

photos by Josh Scholten

photos by Josh Scholten

 

I remember it
as October days are always remembered,

cloudless,
maple-flavored,
the air gold and so clean
it quivers.
~Leif Enger, Peace Like a River 

 

photo by Josh Scholten

photo by Josh Scholten

photo by Josh Scholten

photo by Josh Scholten

photo by Josh Scholten

photo by Josh Scholten

photo by Josh Scholten

photo by Josh Scholten

Peering at a Landscape on a Branch

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I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of 59 years, and on this farm for 20 years.  The grandeur of the snow-capped mountains to the east and the peaceful shore to the west overwhelms everything in between.  I’ve walked past these bare antique apple trees autumn after autumn, but had never stopped to really look at the landscape growing on their shoulders and arms.  There is a whole other ecosystem on each tree, a fairy land of earth bound seaweed, luxuriant in the fall rains, dried and hidden behind leaves and fruit in the hot summer.

This is the world of lichen, a mixed up cross between mold and fungus, opportunistic enough to thrive on rock faces, but ecstatic on absorbent bark.

I had never really noticed how proudly diverse they are.  I had walked right by their rich color and texture.

Yet it hasn’t bothered them not to be noticed as they are busy minding their own business.  As John McCullough writes below,  they thrive happily where they find themselves “never and always true to their essence, never and always at home.”

Now I know.  And so do you.

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Closer, with the glass, a city of cups!

Why are they doing this?

In this big sky and all around me peaks &
the melting glaciers, why am I made to
kneel and peer at Tiny?
~Lew Welch from “Springtime in the Rockies, Lichen”
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The lichen raised its fragile cup,
and rain filled it, and in the drop
the sky glittered, holding back the wind.

The lichen raised its fragile cup:
Now let’s toast the richness of our lives.
~Helvi Juvonen  “Lichen Cup”

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A truly good book is something as wildly natural and primitive, mysterious and marvelous, ambrosial and fertile, as a fungus or a lichen.
~Henry David Thoreau

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We are lichens on a grand scale.
~David Haskell

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But what is life to a lichen?
Yet its impulse to exist,
to be,
is every bit as strong as ours —
arguably even stronger.
If I were told that I had to spend decades
being a furry growth on a rock in the woods,
I believe I would lose the will to go on.

~Bill Bryson

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It is merely
a question of continuous
adjustment, of improvising a life. When I’m far from friends
or the easing of a wind
against my back, I think of lichen—
never and always true to its essence,
never and always at home.
~John McCullough from “Lichen”

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BriarCroft in Spring

maydogwood

the old pink dogwood revives every spring

What is all this juice and all this joy?
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “Spring”
orchardpoplar

poplar row behind the apple orchard

Awake! Awake! for the earliest gleam
Of golden sunlight shines
On the rippling waves, that brightly flow
Beneath the flowering vines.
Awake! Awake! for the low, sweet chant
Of the wild-birds’ morning hymn
Comes floating by on the fragrant air,
Through the forest cool and dim;
Then spread each wing,
And work, and sing,
Through the long, bright sunny hours;
O’er the pleasant earth
We journey forth,
For a day among the flowers.
~
Louisa May Alcott Lily-Bell and Thistledown Song I

maydadrhodie

a favorite rhododendron

It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to embrace he knows not what.
~John Galsworthy

mayupperpasture

a happy day put out to pasture

At morn when light mine eyes unsealed
I gazed upon the open field;
The rain had fallen in the night –
The landscape in the new day’s light
A countenance of grace revealed
Upon the meadow, wood and height.
 
The sun’s light was a smile of gold,
Ere shut by sudden fold on fold
Of surging, showering clouds from view;
No sooner hid than it broke through
A tearful smile upon the wold
Where earth reflected heaven’s blue.
 
The sky was as a canvas spun
To paint the new spring’s nocturns on;
A blended melody of tints –
The sea’s hue, and the myriad hints
Of garden-closes, when the sun
Hath stamped the work of nature’s mints.
 ~William Stanley Braithwaite
haflingervane

a happy day put out to blue skies in the breeze

rosemaryblossom

rosemary

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and green world all together,
Star-eyed strawberry breasted
Throstle above Her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within,
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.”
–  Gerard Manley Hopkins, The May Magnificat

kaleblossom

Kale going to seed

maywildflowers

“A delicate fabric of bird song 
Floats in the air, 
The smell of wet wild earth 
Is everywhere. 
Oh I must pass nothing by 
Without loving it much, 
The raindrop try with my lips, 
The grass with my touch; 
For how can I be sure 
I shall see again 
The world on the first of May 
Shining after the rain?” 
–  Sara Teasdale, May Day

tulipapril

grape hyacinth and tulips

“Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment.”
-  Ellis Peters

dandetulip

“Some will tell you crocuses are heralds true of spring 
Others say that tulips showing buds are just the thing 
Point to peonies, say when magnolia blossoms show 
I look forward to the sight of other flowers though 
Cultivate your roses, grow your orchids in the dark 
Plant your posies row on row and stink up the whole park 
The flower that’s my favourite kind is found throughout the land 
A wilting, yellow dandelion, clutched in a grubby hand.”
–  Larry Tilander, Springtime of My Soul 

transparentmay

“Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.”
–  Robert Frost, A Prayer in Spring

skimmia

skimmia

“Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a sunlit blossom of that flower.” 
–  Carl Sandburg 

barnyew

yew pollen

“With the coming of spring, I am calm again. “
–  Gustav Mahler

firstpeony

the first of dozens of peonies

The wealthy man is not he who has money, but he who has the means to live in the luxurious state of early spring.
~Anton Chekhov

creepercreeping

Virginia Creeper starting to do its creeper thing

maycreeper

pinkfrombelow

maynorth

Canadian mountains to the north

“This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.
I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.”
–  D. H. Lawrence, The Enkindled Spring 

northeastmay

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”
–  Robert Frost 

aprilsunrise4

spring sunrise over Mt Baker

“Hark, I hear a robin calling!
List, the wind is from the south!
And the orchard-bloom is falling
Sweet as kisses on the mouth.

Come and let us seek together
Springtime lore of daffodils,
Giving to the golden weather
Greeting on the sun-warm hills.”
–  Lucy Maud Montgomery, Spring Song

oldpink

“If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.” 
–  Audra Foveo 

tulipsam

Sam stops to smell the tulips

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
–  Mark Twain

needspainting

someone is looking his age….it was a rough winter

“Every year, back comes Spring, with nasty little birds yapping their fool heads off and the ground all mucked up with plants.”
-  Dorothy Parker   ;-)

See BriarCroft in Summer, in Autumn, in Winter,
at Year’s End

Sequestered Nook

pearblossomscherrybaker

Beneath these fruit-tree boughs that shed
Their snow-white blossoms on my head,
With brightest sunshine round me spread
Of spring’s unclouded weather,
In this sequestered nook how sweet
To sit upon my orchard-seat!
~William Wordsworth

Sequester has a different meaning these days — a “take no prisoners” government withholding of funds it hadn’t collected to begin with.

I prefer the “hidden away for safe-keeping” definition — exactly how I feel when I walk into the orchard.  I am cloistered in blossoms exuberant with potential.

Sequestered nook.  Words and times change but the essence of spring’s promise never does.

gravensteinapril