What I Learned from an Apple Tree

by Sandy Williams Driver

Our five-acre property on Sand Mountain in north Alabama includes several peach and apple trees as well as a half-acre of blackberry vines. My family enjoys the fresh fruit in the sweltering summer time and the homemade jams and preserves during the chilly winter months.

We never waste any of the delicious fruits gathered during the harvesting season and are firm believers that the food grown in our own backyard is healthier and much more inexpensive than commercially prepared products.

Many evenings find us sitting on our back porch, with bowls overflowing with homemade peach ice cream and blackberry cobbler or thick slices of warm apple pie made with the delicious produce gathered by our own hands.

The best apple tree on our land is about thirty feet tall and lies just beyond our pasture fence. I have no idea what brand of apple it grows; I just know they are ready to eat towards the end of June and the beginning of July. The little green apples on our favorite tree are tart enough to make your tongue twirl up and your eyes water a little bit and sweet enough to make you smack your lips and reach for another.

My two youngest children, Jake and Katie, love playing outside year round, especially during the summer months. The fresh air and exercise help them work up a healthy appetite, so they often just pick some fruit straight from the vine or tree instead of having to walk inside the house to get something to eat.

I am always impressed when I watch the two of them picking apples, which is their preferred snack. Even though there are plenty of loaded branches easily accessible from inside the pasture, they always want the greener ones on the other side. After making it over the fence, they are rarely satisfied with the hundreds of fallen apples littering the ground. They go for the big, "good" ones on the high branches.

Katie, who considers herself a young lady since recently turning 13, prefers not to climb trees, but she doesn't hesitate to ask big brother for help. Jake, at 14, doesn't mind fulfilling her request because he never misses a chance to ascend anything he can get a good foothold on. They both find it hard to limit themselves to just one of the crisp, little apples despite my repeated warnings that eating too many of them can result in a bellyache.

My children's search for the perfect apple is the way I hope they make a lot of decisions in their life. I don't ever want them to settle for second best, or what has fallen to the ground, and I would like for them to go see what is on the other side of the fence before making important choices.

I expect them to always offer assistance to anyone who needs it and in turn never hesitate to ask for help when they can't achieve something on their own. I want them to climb every tree when reaching for the stars in their quest to fulfill their dreams and maybe one day they will finally learn that sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad for your health.

Hopefully, my children will remember that anything grown at home has a better taste, as well as costing less, than store brand products. I sincerely hope that they will always find the time to spend with their family and also enjoy a little time outside as often as they can.

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