L was drawn to him from the first and he still has the echoes of the boys' younger childhood days among his branches in the form of swings and rope ladders. M repaired and painted a bench that encircles him and Poppy likes to lie on it and watch me hanging out the washing, while Ted hides beneath the bench by the trunk of the tree when their games stretch just that little bit too far into Poppy Exuberance for him.
This autumn, the Apple tree is laden with fruits. Some have dropped to the earth already and become food for the wasps and the birds, and I have swept those into two piles, but many more remain on the branches. This weekend L and I have been high up on the ladder in the heart of the tree's kingdom picking apples for friends, neighbours and folk passing by.
I've given the fruit away for free. It seemed churlish to ask for money when the tree does all the hard work and we have more than we and the wild things need. It's good karma to share plenty when you have it- perhaps one day we may be in need and the Universe will remember the bags of apples left quietly by the gate.
They are proving popular- I have been up and down the ladder re-filling bags and re-stocking the box by the gate for the past three days. M expressed surprise that so many people stop to collect them. I think perhaps people are not so very disconnected from the soil after all that they aren't drawn to fresh produce when it's waiting. And there is something a little bit magical about collecting fruits and vegetables from someone's gate, with no sign of a supermarket anywhere in sight. I like to think of those people making apple cake, apple crumble, blackberry and apple pie with the apples from our tree. It makes me feel warm and smiley.
There is a reciprocity here too. I left a note asking for spare plastic bags, and they have been turning up, quietly and without fuss, handfuls left in the Apple Box by way of thanks for the fruit.
M and I went down the lane to Mottisfont (site of the ancient Abbey and still more ancient Springs) yesterday, dog poo bags (empty) in hand to look for the Wild Plum Tree that stands on a bend in the lane. It bears small yellow fruits which drop onto the metallic surface of the lane where they get squished by passing cars. I think people don't notice them but we do. We came home with a bag full. M got a stick and shook the branches and the plums came raining down on our heads. It was a mad laughing scrabble to collect them before they rolled down the hill round the bend and disappeared, or before a car came and flattened them. M did threaten to put me on his shoulders so I could reach up into the tree and pick the plums that way, but the height aspect (not to mention the whole wobble-and-therefore-potential-collapse aspect) scared me so I declined. I expect the entire thing was the perfect opposite to health and safety, but there you go :o)
The keen-eyed among you will have spotted the lone blackberry sitting atop the plums. I picked a handful from the hedge beside the plum tree and added them, with raspberries from the garden, into a custardy caramelly croissanty baked puddingy thing, which we ate last night while watching Lady Chatterley's Lover...
The sun has been shining and it has been warm. I went to see Coco (our rescue pony who lives with Ma). He's an old boy now, although quite how old we don't know, and he lives a peaceful, well-loved existence these days, having been through Tough Times in the past. He came to me several years ago when I was looking for a pony for L. Coco was all wrong for what I wanted and I originally returned home without him, but I woke at 5am the next day with his face before my eyes and I knew I needed to go back for him. His hooves were long and untrimmed, he had an infected tooth hanging out of his mouth making eating and drinking hard for him and he was full of worms. TLC works wonders: within a week he was looking like a different pony and a month later you wouldn't have recognised him. He has lived with Ma for many years now and is the Apple of her eye. Polos are his favourite thing in the whole world and woe betide you if you go to see him without any. I took Pop along with me as she was keen to see him.
Teddy is used to horses but Pop isn't. She behaved perfectly. No chasing, no running too close to hooved back feet, no jumping about. She loved every minute of being in the fields, but when we came home she fell silent and still and didn't resume her usual exuberance for nine hours. I suspect a reaction to a plant. I bathed her paws but it didn't seem to make a difference. The energy in the house is All Adrift when Pop is off colour. She is a such a bundle of joy and life and naughtiness that it's All Wrong when she's subdued. Anyway, some healing worked and she suddenly snapped back to normal, but a vet's visit is due this week just to get her checked out. I expect they'll offer antihistamines, but we'll see.
I'll leave you with some shots from around the garden as another week draws to a happy close...
Hope you've all had a peaceful weekend and have a good week coming,