If you were raised by grown ups who embarked on life after the war in their early 20s – and most of you were – then you can’t help hearing Peggy Lee’s voice wrap around this indelible image of loss and renewal, like the warm breath of a parting kiss that wakes you to find you were dreaming alone. Ah, the apple trees.
Lingering on a memory of sweetness shared, maybe you even hear her lilting “…and the hive of bees – where we once got stung…,” as she lures you to trust her, then gently tears out the core of hope you had forgotten you had.
When I woke up wanting to write – a flash of desire glimpsed through a torrent of adult concerns that have recently drowned out my interest in anything but coffee and getting to the next day somehow – I didn’t imagine I would hang my hat on this song. After all, it’s November. Isn’t it more of a Jaques Prevert month?
But no – of course it is apple trees that I miss, now that the long branches are empty and spring is still uncertain. And it’s not even my apple trees I miss – it’s their apple trees. The world they saw shining, not because it was unpolluted, but because they had not yet been forced to choose between sorrow and joy, wholeness and survival, today and yesterday.
Of course, their apple trees are my apple trees now. Our paths have joined so completely this year, I see their side of the mirror more clearly than ever before. Infected by unintended failures and untreated wounds, maybe they even suspected the harm they were causing – but what choice did they have but to keep going? To keep remembering the orchard, and try to make it back there before the snow flies.