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Memories made in the apple orchardMemories made in the apple orchard

Joy’s Reflections: Some of the best memories come from simple joys in life.

Joy McClain

August 3, 2019

3 Min Read
red apple tree
SPECIAL TREES: There’s something nostalgic about apple trees. They conjure sweet memories of climbing and tasting.Banet12/Getty Images

It’s almost apple-picking time, which means it’s time to find a face mask. I’ve experienced the pain and fat lip from an apple coming down or falling out of the fruit picker too many times to be ignorant of gravity.

It’s a “reach, pull and duck” dance to get the ones high up in the tree. Sometimes, it’s an all-out cover your head and wince as you wait for the rain of little softball-like hits. Once cinnamon and sugar are on the scene, all that is forgotten — and I’m elbow-deep in making butters, pies and crisps for the freezer.

I love everything apple, not to mention the trees. There’s just something nostalgic about a good ole’ fruit tree. My dad started an orchard, and I remember posing next to trees when they were full of fruit while he took pictures. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, so I just stood there and smiled, wondering if maybe I had a future in fruit tree modeling for garden magazines. That was my only gig ever and I never got paid, but the memories were worth it.

Climbing time

My aunt and uncle had the best apple trees for climbing. My cousins and I would nestle our bodies on the low branches and nibble on little green apples. Sometimes, even though we knew we weren’t supposed to, we’d throw them, hitting the sides of the garage.

That was in the days when kids were allowed to climb things, discovering new ways to occupy their minds and hands. Those trees magically became ships on a churning sea, a clubhouse where you could share your secrets, or a place to hide from the imaginary man-eating shark you had to escape.

My grandsons like to climb apple trees now. They’re the same ones I used to stand next to and smile, while my eyes squinted in the sunshine. They pick up the apples that have fallen on the ground and feed them to the pony and goats. They watch the chickens peck them. Even though they know they aren’t supposed to, they throw them — sometimes at each other.

They hang from the branches and are amazed at how much farther they can climb each year compared to the last. When we use the long fruit picker, I tell them to watch out, because there’s most likely an apple coming down to meet them … face to face.


CAPTURED MEMORY: My grandsons enjoy apple trees as much as I did as a child.

I’ve taken some pictures of them, not for any fancy garden magazine or because the fruit is particularly incredible this year. I just want to remember these fleeting days when an apple tree is like a good friend.

The boys are smiling and squinting in the sunshine, and trying to not get worked up about the yellow jackets swarming around the fallen fruit.

We’ve got plans for our crop, and it involves lots of sugar and cinnamon. My grandsons don’t think much about it now, but one day I hope they look at an apple tree and feel a smile sweeping across their memory.

McClain writes from Greenwood, Ind.

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