Picking the lone fruit from George’s dwarf apple tree

Written by Dorothy Swart Fleshman October 05, 2012 01:24 pm
Years back, George planted two dwarf apple trees in our yard out beyond the fenced area.

The apples ripened a bit earlier than the others and were sweet and juicy.

I cannot name them by name, for I don’t know the whereabouts of their tags.

Early on they bore only a few apples here and there. Because the trees didn’t grow very tall, we didn’t get much use out of them because the deer could reach most of the apples as well as I standing on the ground.

Last year the trees were loaded in lovely large apples and I was eager to include some of them in my larder. Sorry to say, the deer and other such apple-loving creatures cleaned the two trees in quick succession even before they were fully ripe.

This year there was but one single apple clinging tenaciously to one of the trees, hanging out in full sight of everyone passing by my driveway. Each time I drove in I had the desire to reach out and take it myself, even knowing that it couldn’t be quite ripe. That wouldn’t bother deer or a visiting bear, and yet it remained there.

Each day I drove by I checked to see if it was still there, expecting it to be gone. Each time it still hung there, unbelievably.

One day in mid-fall I needed to be outside for a few moments. It had been cold enough that cloudy morning that a warming fire would have been the comfort that I had bravely declined. Now I soaked up the warming rays of the late afternoon sun as though to ward off the coming evening chill.

Being outside was a pleasure.

My wanderings took me close to George’s apple trees. Out of curiosity I walked beneath the low-hanging branches of each of the two trees, looking up searchingly for sight of other apples. At least one on each tree, I thought. Nothing but the one apple begging to be picked. Again it surprised me by still being there. I studied it over. It was just medium-sized and had a wormhole on one side. It was a lovely red color beneath its coat of road dust, holding it there in my up-reaching hands.

I lifted its weight upward to see if the stem remained firmly attached. It did.

Should I take my hand away and let the apple aim for further maturity before an animal came along and ate it?

Somehow instead of pulling my hand away in release, my grasp carried the apple a little higher, stretching the stem a little more vigorously.

This time the apple came loose from the branch. Now the tree had no offerings at all, for its one fruit lay possessively in my hand. Now I knew who would eat the apple and save young maidens passing by from the fate decreed by the lone apple.

I had been saved from such a fate years before and no longer cared about the old tale told over the last cookie or food morsel on the plate.

Whosoever took the last sweet on the plate when there were no others with which to replenish the dessert tray would be destined to be an old maid, a spinster, prim, prudish and fussy.

No young woman wanted that.

So, in effect, I was a heroine to pick the lone apple, wipe the dust from its face that had hidden its beauty, bite into its giving flesh while soaking up the juice of sweetness, and declare it ripe. With this thought, I no longer felt guilty for being the lone recipient of the lonely fruit hanging there.

There would be plenty of other apples from other trees for the animals and maybe humans, too. But, I alone had removed the threat hanging over the heads of all the lovely young maidens who might pass this way.

What a lovely thought on a lovely fall day as I crunched away, avoiding the wormhole, of course.

Veteran newspaperwoman Dorothy Swart Fleshman is a La Grande native. Reach her at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it