Sunday, October 11, 2009



Spring! Spring! Glorious Spring! If it's so wonderful, then why can't it be trusted? It's like a yo-yo in March and April, warm and refreshing for a few days, then cold and blustery for a day. It is especially risky for an anxious bloom or bud, stirred to activity by climbing temperatures and increased sunlight, one can almost hear them breaking free from winter's prison. Then there is an abundance of frost and those promising buds or blooms are devastated.

With all the other hazards a young bud must overcome, it is a wonder most plants manage to reproduce. If they manage to escape insects, disease, fungus, blights, and raiding flocks of hungry birds or foraging squirrels, what might they turn out to be at maturity, stunted and knotty, covered with the scars of constant attacks? In that condition, most animals and people will reject them. They may ripen and just hang there until time forces them to release their hold, then fall to the ground. They lay bruised and battered by the impact and begin to decompose. That is nature's way, isn't it?

Adversity can have varying effects on the fruit of trees, just as it does on people, too. This is a valuable lesson I was taught a few years ago, just by observing nature and listening to that little voice within.

It was a crisp fall morning and I had gone for a walk in the woods. I followed a fence line down a steep hillside, crossed a dry creek bed and paused on the edge of the sparse woods I had just walked through. An open pasture lay before me.

In the distance was a small group of isolated trees, depleted of foliage except for a stubborn leaf or two. As I got closer, I could see some tiny, dark masses scattered here and there among the branches. I went a few steps out of my way to investigate. "It's fruit" I thought, possibly Apples. Now, standing directly under the tree, I still could not accurately identify what type of fruit I had discovered. It was light red in color, small, knotty and blotched all over. I picked the ones I could reach and placed them in my jacket pockets.

As the day wore on I stopped to rest. I stooped to sit on a fallen log and felt the bulge in my pocket and remembered the mystery fruit. The first thing I noticed, as I studied them closely, was how cold they were, and how heavy they seemed for their size. They were very hard and their skin was rough as sandpaper. I tried to polish one on my flannel shirt. No way! I couldn't have put a shine on that apple with a buffing wheel and some jeweler's rouge!

I took a bite out of the best looking side and was surprised by the quantity of juice it contained. It was an apple, I was sure of that. I can't begin to describe the flavor. It was simply delicious! I thought to myself, "it's almost as if that tree had tried to pack all of its goodness into those few, stunted pieces of fruit."

I nibbled round and round the tiny core, searching out the last morsel. I was tempted to devour even the core, then I realized there was more in my pocket and no need to get carried away. Still, I broke the core open and was astonished by the size and number of seeds it contained. They were dark and plump, gigantic when compared to a normal apple seed. Instead of eating another apple, I sat and mulled over my observations.

Some people are like those apples. Their whole life has been full of adversity and they have overcome all of it. They may be less than average in appearance, or even down right homely. That fact alone could cause them to be ignored or rejected by others. They have grown accustomed to isolation, seldom attempting to make friends. Yet, they are not soured on life, or bitter. They may look rough on the outside and not worth bothering with, but invest some time, along with a few kind words and a little consideration and you may be surprised by all their inner goodness and how refreshing they can be to those who put forth the effort to know them.
The lessons of life are all around us. Just observe and listen to your heart.


Clarence Bowles