Thursday evening I turn down the oven on the rye bread, trade apron for sweater, and roll my bike out of the kitchen. Outside, the low sun sets the buildings and the bare branches of trees aglow. A maple burns red as an ember against the dark purple rain clouds. It’s sky drama worthy of a Renaissance painting.
Not far from the kitchen is the last remnant of a 19th century orchard inside a 1970’s development. The development—aptly or ironically?— is named Orchard Terrace. There are only a handful of trees left now between the low brick condos. Most no longer bear fruit. My apple’s trunk is hollow and open on one side. Moss, ferns, and horny lichen grow from the old bark. Last year the groundskeeper threatened to cut the tree down, but in the end cut off only one of the two main branches. The remaining branch is heavy with fruit.
The apples are russetted green-gold. They ripen late, bake well, and keep for months. When I walked over a week ago the fruit still clung firmly to the tree, flesh tart and juicy. Now it falls at a touch. When I bite into an apple I find it dry and sweet.
I walk to the nearest condo and tap on the screen. The door is open. Inside, a woman is sitting in a lounge chair watching TV. She turns to me without surprise. “I’ve been waiting for you,” she says. “Would you like the ladder?"
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