But he does have the apples, for they have begun to drop from some of the trees. They are tiny things about one inch in diameter. The little deer is drawn here by their fragrance, and finds comfort in them. As surely as the yellow birch leaves we have found along the main road, he is a sign that summer is already ripening into autumn.
The deer love the apples, and as the season turns toward fall we will spy more and more of them emerging from the forest or floating ghostly among the bayberry near the shore, standing in the lower orchard or grazing peacefully in the backyard. In the twilight we will watch the sheep and the deer eating apples together, a tableau of harmony. They fall under an enchantment of apples, and forget to be afraid.
When we first came here the apple trees were so ancient and untended, the apples so small and so unlike any apple you would ever buy in a store, and we so overwhelmed by other things, that we ignored them. Since then Greg has pruned them all and we have bought a cider press, and last fall we picked apples and pressed cider for the first time.
But we will not devote our lives to these apple trees. Greg will prune them each spring. But from here on the pruning will be nothing radical. There is a beauty, after all, in their gnarled shapes. The apples will still be only tentatively identified, at best. We have done as much as we choose to do in the way of restoring them. Now we are happy to let them be what they are.
Their old craggy bark will continue to provide insects for the birds to eat, their twisted branches places for nests. Their blossoms in spring will hum with wild bees. In winter, small animals will find safe homes in the hollow places among their roots. And for the next few months, as the island slips from summer toward winter, sheep and deer will graze among their dropped fruit.