Richard Lutz harvests the last remnants of the past week.
Two things stopped me in my tracks in the past seven days- one almost permanently.
First, I spent too much time trying to unearth a pocket-sized case that carries plastic, everything from train and bus passes to the emergency credit card. I failed. Couldn’t find it. Gone.
My last recollection was on the much lauded 50 bus route in south Birmingham. I had dropped it, in an aisle, on a seat, getting off. Vanished. I gave myself 48 hours to find it – which is something that never happens. Missing things hide when pursued.
I admitted failure and tracked down the bus lost property office. I grabbed the phone, and there were the cards intact underneath. What??? How do you find what you’re looking for when you pick up the phone revealing…what you were looking for? Everything back to normal.
That same day I got hit by a police car. The driver was watching traffic and not me as it turned. It rammed me. Luckily, I didn’t fall on my head but flat on my side. My right knee is a mess. Later, I checked the almighty mobile. It was in perfect shape after the run-in with a cop car. But ever since, my phone’s junk mail has received..well, let’s say…graphic inquiries about my predelictions. Most of the solicitous queries come from east of the rusty old Iron Curtain.
It’s mid-autumn now and up to the point when my knee attacked that patrol car, I had been picking apples. Scrambling up those gnarly trees each year. My body seemed to be saying (pre knee, of course) that I had been doing this too long. Thirty three years ago, I started out in my (then) new home with five trees. Now I have three. Two burst with big cookers. One is rife with delicious eaters.
I climbed into the largest tree. It is a late harvest, the latest I have known. I find for the first time as I get up the extension ladders that I am not as agile as I once was. That, of course, can’t be possible. I’m fit as a tree-climbing fiddle. I have worked in orchards and tended my own trees for decade upon decade. I even lived in an orchard house one year. I couldn’t possibly be less adept.
But I was. I am. I didn’t have the balance, the strength, the ultimate nerve to perch one branch higher up on a foot and simply s-t-r-e-t-c-h for that pair of ripe cookers touched by autumn light and ready for grabbing. But even with limiting abilities, that high up, I still could look across the city gardens, to the apples at the end of top branches framed by a blue sky. They’d fall soon anyway, as it happens, with the big wind this week. And so I carried out the final heretical act and whacked the branch and shook it ’til they fell.
This method is a monumental no-no in the sweet world of apple harvesting. It ruins and bruises the fruit. And does an old tree no good at all. But no one was around. And I don’t think anyone saw me.