Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Old Apple Tree

Apple Tree - My Reading Tree

I don't know why, but last night as I was lying in bed waiting to fall asleep, I thought about an old apple tree we had in our side yard when I was a child.  It was an ancient, gnarly old thing, and so big I couldn't wrap my arms around it.  

I remember it had the most wonderful bark and one side of its trunk looked just like the wrinkled face of an old man with his eyes closed.  I always imagined that he had been trapped inside the tree forever by a wicked witch, and he was just waiting, hoping for a genie to come along and break the spell to set him free.  

Just above the old man, a long, thick branch grew straight out in a perfect right angle from the trunk, and right over it, a round hole had formed in the tree itself. 

That branch is where I loved to be.  I would climb up there and sit and read for hours, my back against the trunk, legs stretched out in front, with an extra book tucked in the hole for later.

But that old apple tree wasn't just for reading and climbing.  It was great for other things, too.  We kids used it as 'base' when we played tag and it was perfect to hide behind for hide and seek. 

I remember once having to memorize the poem, "Trees", by Joyce Kilmer when I was in the fourth grade and thinking, She must have had an old apple tree, too, when she wrote the poem.  Ours also had a nest of robins in its hair.

Daddy always said he wanted to take the tree down.  "Lord knows, it isn't good for anything but dropping leaves in the fall and it hardly ever grows an apple."  He and mama thought it was such an eyesore, and maybe it was, but Mother Nature saved him the trouble.

One hot summer night, we had a huge thunderstorm and it woke all of us from sleep.  One particular flash of lightning was much brighter than the rest.  Daddy said it sounded like the lightning hit something nearby and he went downstairs to look around.  

When he came back upstairs, he told us the lightning had split the old apple tree right down the middle.  

I loved that tree.  It was like losing a good friend.  But I always wondered if the lightning broke the spell and set the old man free ... 

“A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write.” ~CJ Heck

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