Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Orchard


It's original name was Tornado Alley. The first time we discovered this scrappy acre of fallen cedar trees, scattered by some forgotten force, we gave it a name. I always thought it would be the most inexpensive acre to clear because it simply needed all of those dead trees pushed into a pile to burn.

Over the years, we've opted for clearing and building on the first two acres of our place. Both took more effort to clean up, but now they are park-like in their beauty. Tornado Alley is the barrier that separates development from the wild. That barrier has grown and overgrown into an orchard.

The Orchard is a wily place full of life that sprang from the death of trees. Wild roses create thorny hills and botanical caves for small wildlife to inhabit. The food sources gather there, too. The thorny, massive bushes offer up rose hips, as well as the perfect trellis for grapes and beauty berries to flourish. The Orchard wears a scarf that changes with the seasons. In the spring, it is the color of tannic water that flows through its threads and streams. As the water evaporates, the vibrant greens of mosses and grasses redesign the colors of summer. Pops of color dot the trees as birds come and go. By winter, the warm colors of decay take hold as they wait for the water to return, always pumping life into The Orchard.

There are songs here. The symphony isn't so well heeled as the storied Festival Hill that is only a few miles away, but this orchestra is experienced in the song of the wilderness. The frogs trill like piccolos in a stave of notes and rhythms that are the beat of the symphony. Coyotes draw a bow across wild harmonious violins that crescendo as the night settles in. The big brass of trombones and baritones are performed by the cows as they call across the fields. As the arrangement decrescendos, a whippoorwill takes a solo. In The Orchard, the residents have perfected a masterpiece of song that has played nightly since before any human payed the price of ownership here. 


A man will crush the dirt, rip it apart and plant a proper garden in his quest to survive. A man, and even two girls, will overlook something considered ugly and pesty. Whether it was the spirits of the earth or a delay in plans to eliminate it, The Orchard made a statement in late summer. It will remain. It will provide for the animals, the plants, the stream that borders it, and if its newest human residents wish to partake, it will allow it. The rules are its own, and that means it will not give itself up as easily as a well cultivated crop. It will challenge with scratches, tall grass, bees that bump away invaders, chiggers, and sometimes snakes. But if a person is willing to coexist by the rules of nature, the orchard will share its abundance.

Juices, jams, teas and wines are waiting at a buffet provided by all the things we thought we didn't care for. When the truth is... The Orchard has been caring for us forever.

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