Apple trees have always been dear to my heart and of course, they are associated with the goddess. What follows is a little story where the goddess is made manifest.
Torn Apple Heart
Three years ago I had a beloved apple pruned – I do not normally prune trees, believing that to do so may harm them, but because I once trusted a young boy who also loved trees, I allowed him to make a few cuts that spring.
Last year my apple struggled and dropped her apples too soon.
This year rain has been scarce except for monsoons that first drown the trees, leave roots barren, with most of the moisture rushing down the hill to the brook. When I noticed so many many apples on too thin young branches I became uneasy….
It’s almost mid August; since mid July we have experienced the hottest summer I have ever endured.
Yesterday, the air was leaden; not a breath brushed a leaf. The night before we had a maelstrom, a brutal monsoon that weakened branches already drowning in apples.
The next morning I looked out my window and saw bizarrely twisted bowed branches after the midnight storm. Oh no, I had raised this little wild apple from a tiny six -inch stick. But even then, although bowed to the ground as if in prayerful supplication, the tree was still whole.
At some point during the day one bowed branch snapped. The tree was torn and broken – my beautiful beloved wild apple tree.
This morning Red Deer was feasting on the apples – although even she seemed confused as to whether to take some off the ground or take them from the torn limbs.
Trees are resilient I reminded myself.
Change the only constant. I said the words over and over like a mantra.
Yet I experienced waves of grief crushing me as I witnessed the carnage. I also felt a terrible loneliness. Most humans don’t care about trees the way I do. Few even acknowledge that they are Living Beings. And this tree belongs to a forest of others that live nearby. Even the young ones embody wisdom beyond human comprehension. Ancient patterns and 400 million years stand behind each tree that survives… my prayer for the tree rang out in deep silence….May this tree find the strength she needs to survive.
To paraphrase Robin Wall Kimmerer, well known author (Braiding Sweetgrass) ‘as we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us’.
These words came to me after the limb of my apple tree was torn from her trunk. Even before the bowed and wind twisted branch cracked, I feared the worst. In a panic, I called my dear friend and professional arborist. – I have known this man since he was a young boy at 19 and he’s 45 now. He loves and is as sensitive to trees as I am having come from a long line of tree cutters that stretch back generations – every tree on hundreds of acres of family owned land continue to be allowed to grow into old age or to be cut sustainably. This man is so well known in the state that people call him and his large crew to work in whole forests to help all trees. Last year he won the State of Maine’s Forestry prize for his impeccable judgment, integrity, and skill.
As always I was thrilled to see my friend who appeared within hours, but he knew how much this apple tree meant to me and agreed that she was in trouble. He cut carefully and cleanly – no power tools were used at all – too invasive he said – he climbed the tree with skill and by the end of my trimming – whoops her trimming – he pronounced her healthy and safe – some earlier cutting by the young boy had created some issues that had weakened the tree’s integrity. After removing the injured limbs my friend took every downed branch to a different spot to feed the animals – always thinking of our other non – human friends. Is it any wonder that I love him? As he mentioned for the millionth time I quote these words directly, “we are kindred spirits whose friendship has endured forever.” He is also one of the finest, most perceptive naturalists I know! I was overjoyed for the tree and for me, and that night, Red Deer had a feast! Thank goodness for friends like this one.
Back to Robin’s remark – I had the strongest sense as we were cutting, that the tree, Sheldon, and I were in a three – way conversation without words, and that the tree was feeling cared about. – Projection? I doubt it – there was a strange buzz in the air that we both picked up on and commented upon afterwards – Trees know when we love them! And healing them heals us.
If only we could remember what we once knew….
Since then each day I have been going out to gently dislodge apples from my tree hoping that I can help continue lighten her burden; while leaves turn yellow and drop, the branches are still too heavy with fruit. Too many months of heat and draught have stressed every tree all the forests including this one.
Today, after returning to the house from apple thinning I looked out the window and saw Red Deer staring in the window as she swallowed an apple. I am used to her peering in at us (my dogs continue to be fascinated by her friendly behavior). However, I was a bit surprised because it was 2 PM and she usually comes around in the early mornings and evenings, She must have been watching me drop apples from the woods, I thought vaguely… Then I saw him. Little Deer in the flesh. The most beautiful fawn I have ever seen trotting up the hill, materializing out of some giant ferns… When he too began to gaze in at us after munching down an apple I was stunned.
Red Deer has been living here for months. When she first appeared she was so emaciated I let her eat all my favorite spring and summer flowers without interfering and despite the threat of Lyme ticks. I feared she was ill. Maybe dying. It never occurred to me that she had a fawn because she looked so ill (at least at first) and was so remarkably friendly.
One day about a month ago I opened the door and there she stood ready to enter the cabin! I met her on my paths; she would appear just behind me if I sat in my chair. In all these years I have never had a deer who adopted me like this one did.
And yet until today I never imagined she had a fawn!!!
Tonight marks August’s First – Harvest moon. In many goddess traditions this turning of the wheel is welcomed, because it is a time to begin to reflect and slow down. In some (non Christian) traditions we are are moving into the months during which the powers of the goddess become more pronounced The fact that this extraordinary afternoon visit occurred today, of all days brings the goddess to life for me as a deer and her son…
My joy knows no bounds.
BIO: Sara Wright is a naturalist, ethologist (a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Maine.