By the woodshed or the pump, or against the barn or the garden fence, the apple tree or pear tree connects the residence with the world of life and space that stretches out to woods and farms. We transfer our affections to it, as a half-way place between ourselves and our surroundings. It is the warder of the fields and monitor of the home. It is an outpost of the birds. It feels the first ray of morning sunshine. It proclaims every wind. It drips copiously in the rain. Its leaves play on the grass when the year goes down into the long night or winter. And in the spring its brightening twigs and swelling buds reveal the first pulse in the reviving earth. Every day of the year is in its fabric, and every essence of wind and sun and snapping frost is in its blossom and its fruit.
I often wonder what must have been the loss of the child that had no fruit-tree to shelter it. There are no memories like the days under an old apple tree. Every bird of the field comes to it sooner or later. Perhaps a humming-bird once built on the top of a limb, and the marks of the old nest are still there. Strange insects are in its knots and wrinkles. The shades are very deep and cool under it. The sweet smells of spring are sweetest there. And the mystery of the fruit that comes out of a blossom is beyond all reckoning, the magic growing week by week until the green young balls show themselves gladly among the leaves. And who has not watched for the first red that comes on the side that hangs to the sun, and waited for the first fruit that was soft enough to yield to the thumb!