When I was growing up I lived practically kiddy corner from a 50-tree apple orchard. The orchard really wasn’t tended and the neighborhood kids had free reign over the orchard, its trees, and, most importantly, the apples.
In the summer we would spend hours in the orchard playing games and eating apples. Although the trees weren’t really taken care of, they still produced some pretty good apples and it was nice to be able to pick off an apple from a tree and bury your teeth into that juicy, crunchy fruit. Birds would also enjoy the fallen fruit and it was funny seeing drunk birds who had imbibed on too many apples fermenting in the sun. Being boys, apples also made perfect missiles and there is nothing better than hitting someone with a rotten, soft apple that’s been baking in the sun for months. Firecrackers put into apples and tossed also make quite an effective weapon. In the fall we would have epic apple wars which would leave the entire neighborhood covered in smelly, smashed rotten apples. If it was warm enough, the apple stench would last for days.
That apple orchard really represented the carefree days of youth and after my brother died, I found myself walking through the apple orchard once again. I was 23 at the time and it had probably been 5 years since I was last in the orchard. I was inextricably drawn to the orchard, probably trying to recapture that youthful innocence that had been shattered that terrible day. I didn’t know what I would find there but it was a comforting place, even if it was for a moment.
Today the apple orchard is gone. A fence has gone up around it and houses sit where apple trees used to dislodge their fruit. I don’t know exactly when it happened and glad that I wasn’t around to see them go. Living in the city, my kids and their friends don’t have a place like an apple orchard to spend countless hours and I am not sure their mothers would let them if they did. Which is too bad. Kids need a place where they can go without adult supervision, where fruit, and all that it represents, is just there for the picking.