Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring and the orchards

It was only a week ago we were skidding around the icy streets of Charlottesville and I was posting about snowflakes.

Today Spring arrived. You can smell it in the air.

Somehow, I have always lived near orchards even when living in cities. When I was small, my dad ran a can factory in San Jose, and the orchards were behind our house -- peaches, pears and walnuts mostly. My friends and I spent most of our summers playing in the orchards. Migrants from Mexico came to do the picking.

When I was a young adult I lived in Riverside, east of Los Angeles, and my little rental house was in the last stand of working orange groves in Southern California (now covered with miles of houses). Spring was magical in Riverside, the sweetness of the orange blossoms filled the air, especially in the mornings.

In Sacramento, we lived in a city that floats on a sea of orchards and farms in the Central Valley. The Blue Diamond packers are not far from our house; walnuts and almonds mostly were packed for shipment all over the world. Any trip up or down I-5 takes you through miles of orchards and groves.

And here in Charlottesville, you don't have to drive far to be thick in the apple orchards. We took a drive Friday through Crozet a few miles from here; the orchards are ready for a new season. The trees will soon be in bloom, and there is something Lenten about that. We are not quite at Easter, but ready for the buds to fill the trees. 

So I thought I would share a poem, provided by our friend Karen in Tennessee, who took the time to send this in between all she is doing with a new-born infant at home. The painting that goes with it is by Massachusetts artist Stephen I. Soitos.

Here you are. Enjoy the orchards and the sweet, sweetness of Spring:

The Apple Orchard
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Come let us watch the sun go down
and walk in twilight through the orchard's green.
Does it not seem as if we had for long
collected, saved and harbored within us
old memories? To find releases and seek
new hopes, remembering half-forgotten joys,
mingled with darkness coming from within,
as we randomly voice our thoughts aloud
wandering beneath these harvest-laden trees
reminiscent of Durer woodcuts, branches
which, bent under the fully ripened fruit,
wait patiently, trying to outlast, to
serve another season's hundred days of toil,
straining, uncomplaining, by not breaking
but succeeding, even though the burden
should at times seem almost past endurance.
Not to falter! Not to be found wanting!

Thus must it be, when willingly you strive
throughout a long and uncomplaining life,
committed to one goal: to give yourself!
And silently to grow and to bear fruit.

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