That apple tree. Oh my goodness. Something told me it wouldn’t turn out well.
It happened last spring. Or rather, it started then. Like many Southern women, I celebrate spring with a bounty of colorful flowers. I plant begonias, petunias, diamond frost, lantanas, marigolds, and azaleas in the window boxes and garden paths, and I fill the porches with potted plants and hanging baskets. It’s cheerful and homey. I love it.
So last spring, as I shopped in the garden center and filled two carts with flowers, three small trees and flowering bushes, my husband sidled over to me.
“Can we get an apple tree?” Tink grinned and pointed to a very tall apple tree.
I did a double take. “Why?”
“So, we can have our own homegrown apples.” He nodded his head eagerly like a little boy. I smiled and shrugged.
“If you want,” I said.
We lugged the apple tree home and set it in the backyard with the smaller trees to await planting. A couple of weeks later, Brandon, who has helped me around the house for several years, came over to dig holes. Since Tink was working and I didn’t want to interrupt him, I hired Brandon. We planted the other trees. Brandon began digging a hole for the apple tree at the top of an embankment behind our house.
Suddenly, Tink threw open an upstairs window and stuck his head out. Now, I don’t know what he was doing on that side of the house because he was suppose to be working in his office, which is on the front side of the house. Nonetheless, there he was.
“You’re not going to put the apple tree there, are you?”
Brandon’s shovel stopped. I looked up. “Yes.”
He shook his head. “If you put it there, the apples will roll down the hill.”
“So?” I don’t arbitrarily pick places to plant trees. I put thought into it. “It will be pretty here.”
Thus, began the discussion about where Tink wanted to plant it. He wasn’t sure yet where he wanted it, but I insisted it needed to be planted right then, while Brandon was there to do it.
“I’ll plant it tonight when I finished working,” Tink said.
That’s when I gave him that look every wife knows well: a “really?” look with hands planted on my hips.
“No, you won’t.”
“I will. I promise. Just leave it.”
Brandon looked at me. I sighed. “Fill the hole back in.” He laughed and that’s what he did.
The tree didn’t get planted that night or the next or the next. He claims it’s because I didn’t tell him where to put it, but I had told him, “Anywhere but over the septic tank.” Besides, I already had picked a place. Spring blew into summer and the dry days came. I toted bath water — for I am frugal and environmentally conscious — buckets at a time, to water my flowers and that apple tree that was lonely and forgotten, trying to hold on until a better day.
Summer drifted into fall, and Tink found himself in Los Angeles, working on a new television show, commuting home for the weekends. The apple tree, still somewhat hopeful, waited for a permanent residence.
“When are you going to plant that apple tree?” I asked over the phone one day.
“One weekend when I’m home. Don’t let it die,” he answered.
Autumn, colder than usual, frosted its way into winter, and when winter’s bitter freezes came, the apple tree could take no more. Just as I suspected, it did not end well.
Or maybe it did. In a way. I learned a lesson. Or perhaps it’s better to say that I earned a right.
Next time, I will not stop a man who is digging a hole for a tree in favor of a man who is digging a hole for himself.
Go to www.rondarich.com to sign up for Rich's newsletter.