Walking along the gravel road and pathway to and from Miss Edith’s cottage, I reveled in the white and pink blossom explosion of flowing apple and cherry trees. I felt as if I were in a parade marching by a reviewing stand of floral dignitaries.
Generations of trees grace the landscape around the cottage, from the very young, newly-planted memorial trees with their tender trunks encircled by metal protective screens and supported by guy lines gripping those trunks with soft rubber circles to the midlife flowering trees with their clusters of buds and blossoms to the one magnificent and surely the oldest apple tree of all standing guard on the west side of the cottage, its gnarled trunk holding stories from presiding over many cocktail hours on the cottage veranda.
As I walked out from the cottage towards the four corners, the May sun was generating a gentle warmth on my shoulders and calling forth a piquant fragrance from the more elderly white pine trees along the walk. Suddenly, I was struck by yet another magnificent tree, this one surely the oldest pine tree of all—much less showy and much more vertical than its elderly apple tree compatriot. This tree’s massive trunks and boughs reached skyward while the apple tree’s gnarly compact trunk was the starting point for its muscular boughs which reached out horizontally.
Walking down the path toward Underhill, the sun was less intense, and less warm on my shoulders. It was still shining brightly above the trees, but there was a veil of light green haze overhead that was filtering the sun’s rays. I realized that the hardwood trees were putting on the undergarments of their summer outfits. Their thin, yellow-green mini-blossom clusters and the tiniest of leaf buds beginning to unfurl were generating the beginnings of shade.
After a blustery, rainy April spent indoors, I am definitely eager for the color explosion of the flowering trees and desperately seeking the sunshine on my shoulders that makes me happy (to borrow from John Denver’s 1971 song).
Yet I find myself taking a pause to reflect on those two trees—the apple and the white pine. Despite the decades that have gone by, those two have remained a steady presence in the Topsmead landscape. Despite the loss of their youthful ebullience, they have maintained their quiet dignity. Despite the loss of limbs to ice and disease, they have retained their resilience.
Yes, we could all do well to take advantage of this liminal May moment between winter/spring and spring/summer to absorb the example of these two elder states(wo)men trees.