Friday, December 30, 2011
The Orchard of my youth
The drive was long as always. Eleven and a half hours alone in the car. As I turned off the paved road onto the dirt road upon which I grew up, the change was obvious like coming upon a bombed out city block after turning a corner.
I was lucky to grow up where I did. Lucky to live at the liminal place between farmland and the wilds. Lucky to grow up on a dirt road with only one visible neighbor, farmers fields and the ancient prune orchard on the other side of the dirt road. In the early spring those trees burst with little white flowers and it was magical to walk among them playing peekaboo with the fox and the deer. In the summer my parents and I would walk through the prune orchard on lazy warm evenings, headed over to the peach orchard. We'd follow the meandering deer paths without much care knowing that they too ended at the peach orchard. I have spent countless hours of the fall time in the prune orchard, grease paint on my face, bow in hand, tucked away behind a tree or in a blind made out of the blackberry bush that borders the orchard, in the hopes a deer would offer itself to the hunt. I remember the flight of an arrow, the red trail it made. I remember the falcon who took his dinner from a flock of Starlings in a tree not twenty yards from me. I remember cold misty winter walks among the bare trees who seemed to stand like silent soldiers in nice clean rows. Not so long ago I remember taking my kids on their first explorations of the old orchard. The mixed looks of excitement, awe, and nervousness.
I stopped the car. I couldn't help it as I looked out over the orchard. The trees no longer standing like soldiers on parade, but instead laying down, blasted by some bulldozer, their bodies broken and scattered. Some thrown into carnal piles awaiting the torch. The lonely mists still hung about, but the orchard is gone and all that is left to me are my wandering memories.