Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

WINTER APPLES

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I left Bruce Road 10 and turned down the River Road where the Saugeen River runs through a slight valley with farm fields rising up on either side. The nights have been cold these past few weeks and I wanted to see if ice had taken over and slowed the usually fast-flowing water. Sometimes this ice builds to such an extent that it heaves itself up the banks on to the edge of the shoulder. Thick frozen chunks, slabs, branches, even huge tree trunks end up stacked along the roadside…nature’s traffic barrier. It isn’t wise to drive this road in early spring, especially if there’s a melt. Mud and water usually turn the unpaved surface into a quagmire. That’s when they close the road. The ice is building. But it will be some time before things turn dramatic.

As I approached Smith’s Apple Orchard ( www.smithsapples.com ) I noticed  that the entire area was fenced off…perhaps to keep the deer away…for there  were tracks everywhere. Then the colour of his dwarf trees caught my eye.  Hanging languidly on the bare branches in the cold afternoon sun, like winter  blossoms, were apples, not quite red, frozen and obviously abandoned. The  lush summer-fall reds had faded to a rusty hue. The winter had frozen the life  out of them. Without the contrasting green of the leaves the orchard was a  barren, desolate sight. Tree after tree supported the shriveling fruit on  branches drooping slightly to the snow. Nature exacts its toll on what we leave  behind.

What does Steve Smith do with these when he comes to prune sometime in February, I wondered. Perhaps these apples were left dormant for a winter harvest. Perhaps he’s copying the vintners of Niagara and plans on making ice cider this year. Perhaps not.

Looking on the bright side, the orchard’s colour broke the monotony of the winter white that lay all around me.


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