Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Spring Thaw under the Apple Tree

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Spring Thaw under the Apple Tree

Article excerpt

EVERY April, I am beset by the same frightened concern - that spring might not occur this year.

Even at the beginning of May, the landscape looks forsaken, with hills, sky, and forest forming a single gray meld, like the wash an artist paints on a canvas in preparation for a masterwork. When I first came to Maine 13 years ago, I had to turn for solace to a friend who had worked in the north woods most of his 70 years. "Just wait," he counseled during an April snowfall, when my spirits had once again ebbed. "You'll wake up one morning and it will just be here."

And lo, on May 3 of that year I awoke to a green so startling as to be almost electric, as if spring in Maine were simply a matter of flipping a switch. Leaves had unfurled, legions of goldfinches had arrived at the feeder, and daffodils were fighting their way heavenward. I leaped outdoors with an attitude of "What took you so long?" And I watched as the last of the snow, which only the day before had kept the lid on this euphoria, beat a hasty retreat to sheltered branches and rock crevices, diminishing in importance.

It was almost too much to bear, this assault of color, this world of spring in suddenly rapid motion. I watched as those aforementioned hills, sky, and forest revealed their appealing purples, blues, and greens. And after my eyes had feasted, the lilacs and honeysuckles competed for attention, exuding a dizzying fragrance.

In my neighborhood, there is an old apple tree on an undeveloped lot. It belongs to no one and therefore to everyone. Rising unkempt between railroad tracks and asphalt, its dark, twisted branches sprawl heavenward and earthward in a mire of unpruned abandon. In winter, this tree looks dead as a doornail. And yet each spring, it blossoms so profusely that the air becomes saturated with the aroma of apple. When I drive through it, I make sure my windows are rolled down. It gives me the feeling of moving in another element, like a kid on a water slide. …

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