I recently marked an important milestone in my life. Since graduating high school, I have never spent more than four years in any one place, in any one house, in any one job. At the time I enjoyed my vagabond ways, as I was clearly searching for something and wasn’t willing to settle until I found it. It was easy to rip up the roots I had started to grow in each place, as they were young and tender, and hadn’t firmly wound their way into the earth. Yet each time I did this, I could feel the trunk of my life wobble and bend a little with the unsteadiness of the unknown.
In the waning light of dusk the other night, Andrew and I got down on our hands and knees and planted the first of hopefully many fruit trees we intend to grow on our farm. We had recently picked up two baby apple trees, each with five different varieties grafted into its tiny branches. We waited for the perfect weather: cool and damp, and added our own compost from the chick brooder around the fine roots as we placed the trees into their freshly dug homes. Andrew made sure to place the trees just-so, so that the lowest branch faced the southwest to shade the trunk on hot days. We filled the holes with damp dirt and pruned the branches close to the trunk to encourage the trees to spend all their energy developing strong roots. With our hands we built a damn around each tree, a fairy ring of sorts to allow water to pool and be directed down where it is needed most.
After each tree was done, I tenderly grasped the wispy trunk in my fist and closed my eyes. I envisioned the roots growing strong and deep, spreading wide out into the pasture. I saw a bright green canopy overhead, with shiny tempting apples waiting to be picked. And I saw my daughter, many years down the road, running under the tree in sun-dappled light, laughing with her wild hair flowing behind her.
There is no instant gratification with fruit trees; planting them means you’re in it for the long haul. Kneeling there with my knees in the dirt I bound my heart to these trees and this land. Planting these trees was a prayer for my family, and an act of love for the life that lies ahead of us. Finally, I can say that I am home.