18 September 2020
Apple, apple! At our old house in the backyard there was a crabapple tree. We never learned to harvest or do anything much with the crooked, odd looking little fruit; however the apples became the source of a favorite job for our young children, especially with the boys. Whenever Dad needed the area cleared – indeed the tree stood in the middle of what we were building up into a Mary garden – he would tell the kids it was time to play “Apple, apple!” It simply meant picking up all the old fruit fallen to the ground, gathering them into buckets or bins or the wheelbarrow, and getting them into our compost. I think the combination of getting to help Dad with an outside job and seeing who could gather the most apples the quickest drove their delight. Occasionally, a local homeless man indulged in gathering some of the fallen fruit – we allowed him freely – and he’d likely known of the tree long before we’d moved into the house. The crabapple was dying when we got there, and eventually had to be cut down to the stump, but we always appreciated the significance of its proximity to our statue of Mary, the New Eve. Across from the crabapple leaned a flowering redbud which, during a storm produced by a hurricane, finally laid itself all the way down to the ground and became our Rosary Tree. Upon that tree many, many children sat - or upon it climbed to sneak a bounce - while we prayed with friends and family in the garden on First Saturdays. Anyway, those trees provide for happy memories.
Now, we have four apple trees spread about our property and, while the apples are still odd looking, we have discovered they are delicious to eat. Our statue of Our Lady of Fatima now stands before a small fig tree which, with the other larger figs behind the garage has produced a bounty. The big old pear tree has provided no fewer than thousands of pears (don’t fancy I exaggerate!) and so, as intimated before, we are learning how to consume and preserve fruit right out of our yard, with a healthy portion offered to the birds, butterflies, and bees, and plenty fallen with which to play “Apple, apple!” ~ The labor we do outside, picking fruit, mowing the field, cleaning out the coop or shed, clearing sections of overgrowth, hauling fodder for the compost or moving stones to border the garden beds, makes it impossible – particularly when pausing to catch our breath and get a drink of water and take in the beautiful, green, sunny, breezy landscape of our surrounds – not to realize how free we are and how thankful we ought to be. We watch small creatures pay homage to their Maker in their very being. There is nothing else the song of a bird or the loping flutter of a butterfly can be most of the time! Let us remember to join in their song and live in praise and wonder!
Thirty days hath September…the rhyme runs through our heads recently, though indeed we try not to count off the days around here too many at a time or too often. The oppressive heat and humidity of the Summer we have navigated duly, and continue to face with brave -- and it could be said – with refreshed faces, and try not to rush too quickly into the hoped-for chill of the Fall, the reality of which is promised a little around the bend, as September has come. Fatima Farm has allowed a wonderful step off the familiar path into relatively unknown ways, and a break from regular air-conditioning is one of them, and the results are good. Strangely like the first experience of snow, in that brush with reality in a newly invigorating or nearly forgotten kind of way, living days out in the heat by the sweat of one’s brow – or at least with the sweat on one’s brow -- has been for the whole family a breath of fresh air, actually so in the sense that relief from the over-warmth of the day comes with the natural coolness of day’s end, when open-windowed breezes carry off the stifling heaviness that sometimes weighs down our bodies and spirits in the afternoons. Then, there is the great outdoors, with the trees offering their cool shade, the creek offering its cool water, and the wind -- and often, respite in the form of an afternoon thunderstorm, topped off by a whole-sky rainbow – making it difficult not to ask if it had really been so hot today? We are breathing easier, feeling better, and singing along with Mother Goose the months of the year but enjoying our days one day at a time. Thank God for His providential care and endless wisdom! May we realize His bounty each day with childlike wonder, natural piety, and hearts turned to His will!
On this little homestead our family aspires to work the land and hand on the Catholic Tradition, walking in wonder and learning to live by the fruits of our labor, in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, who guides us to Him.