Apples from Early June

My Mother made plans in 1961 for a small orchard. She used string and stakes to outline the dimension to ensure its future, and later when Dad built the fence line he exactly complied with Mothers wishes. The string and stakes had been her way of letting him know this was important to her and for it not to be over looked. Now with the fence built Mom's orchard had officially become part of the property and our family history.

Mother's orchard was planted on the west side of the house. A perfect spot Mom decided, because it would get the last sun of the day, and the water hose would easily reach every tree. She planted a variety of fruit trees including several types of cherry, pear, and apple trees.

For years Mom's orchard just looked like little tiny twigs sticking out of the ground. But Mom was forever patient with her orchard's growth. Each year Mom measured the height of her children and then the height of her trees, but in time the trees easily cascaded over all our heads and were producing fruit.

A lone tree soon rose to distinction, and became the pride and joy of Mother's orchard. It was her 'Early June' apple tree, which produced beautiful light yellow-greenish apples that were much too tart to eat right off the tree, but were perfect for cooking and baking.

Each season this little faithful apple tree would produce hundreds and hundreds of apples for Mom to use for baking to spoil her family. My mom's apple pie and applesauce are undeniably the best. And Mom gives all the credit to her 'Early June' apple tree. My mother modestly says, "The reason my pies are so good is because of 'Early Junes' apples, without her apples my pies would just be average".

For over forty years heavy winds, ice storms, lightening hits, insects, and tree diseases have ravaged Mom's orchard. Mom has tended to her damaged fruit trees as if they were loving members of the family. Giving them the best care possible. Even with her constant loving effort, she still has lost most of her trees. She now has only two trees remaining in her orchard, her 'Washington Red', and her 'Early June'.

Last year during the winter, Mom's beloved apple tree 'Early June' was knocked to its side by the strong winds. As the entire family was called and gathered to come see the sad condition of 'Early June', it was clear mother was worried and concerned for her longtime friend. Seeing this damaged apple tree lying on its side was like seeing someone taking their last breathes. My brother was the first to speak, "Well Mom it sure doesn't look good. She has been partly uprooted. I don't know if she's dead or not."

My brother paused waiting for my Mom to speak clearly, sensing my mom's emotions. Mother said nothing. She just stood looking down at her tree. My brother continued, "If you want me to clean up this mess around her I will. We can try to prop her back up with support and see if she makes it."

Mom was still not saying a word. She just nodded her head, "yes".

My brother worked to prop the tree with some lumber to give it support, but to no avail. Each time he would get her up and supported she would fall again to her side. Finally after several attempts, he told Mom, "I don't think it's going to work, Mom. I am doing more damage here than good. I can't get her to keep standing."

Knowing the pride my Mother takes in her place and how she likes everything being neat and in order, especially her yard and orchard, my brother continued on. "Mom it might be best just to cut her into wood. She is right here by the road and it looks bad from the street having a tree down like this".

Mom not being one ever to raise her voice, said in the loudest voice (screamed) I ever heard her use, "I don't care what it looks like from the road!"

A silence fall over the orchard as we all looked at mother, and then back down at 'Early June', and to mother once again. Mom had finally let go... she was crying. We all rushed to Mother's side to comfort her.

After a few minutes mom began to speak, "I'm not doing anything until spring, until I know if 'Early June' makes it or not. Let's get some dirt, and cover up all her exposed roots."

Over the next months, several well-meaning neighbors stopped bye to ask Mother if they could pull out her 'old dead apple tree' to help clean up her orchard. Mom just said, "No thank you, I am waiting until spring".

Spring came in all its glory, and many were shocked to see the battered apple tree still in the orchard, lying on its side, miraculously now with hundreds of blossoms attached to its branches.

Upon seeing these blossoms, Mother said smiling,"You know I asked God to show me a sign, and to somehow let me know if 'Early June' was still alive. I just couldn't bear the thought of chopping her into wood, without knowing for sure."

'Early June' this year of 2002, produced the bumper crop of her life. The most apples she's ever produced in forty years. The little tree lying on its side was loaded down with so many apples, we had to pick them up daily.

People still come by and see Mom's tree lying on its side there in her orchard, and walk over for a closer look. They can't believe it still grows apples.

Mom continues to stand by her tree, and answers sweetly, "Yes, and you know 'Early June' still grows the best apples in this area. My apple pie would only be considered average if it weren't for her wonderful apples."

One day, I was with mom in the orchard as she again expressed how wonderful 'Early June' apples were to the neighbor, and I was positive that I saw 'Early Junes' branches lift a little higher when Mom spoke those words of praise.

Somehow, I just feel that Mom's little apple tree 'Early June' will keep producing apples, as long as Mom (now 72-years-old) keeps baking her delicious apple pies, and giving 'Early June' all the credit. I think like many friends do, they have an understanding.

[ Melodie Lynn Tilander, Copyright © 2002 ( -- from '2THEHEART' ]


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