Ever since last weekend I’ve had the song “Little Green Apples” stuck in my head. To be specific: the Bobby Goldsboro version from 1968, although many others covered the same song that year including Roger Miller, Glenn Campbell, Frank Sinatra, and O.C. Smith. So, why such an obscure mind worm for a woman that spends very little time with the country music genre (which this storytelling song is akin to)?
Blame it on our apple tree. Let me rephrase that, my apple tree. Many years ago I was strolling through a demonstration garden and was intrigued with the display featuring espalier fruit trees. Basically, you plant a tree next to a support or in my case a fence and through a series of tree toppings and training of limbs you encourage the tree to grow horizontally in one thin plane. The tree in the demonstration garden was loaded with nature’s bounty and the master gardener explained that by keeping the growth compact and directed, more energy is funneled to the fruit. The fence acts as not only a support, but as a solid surface to reflect both sunlight and heat, two missing ingredients in our cool Pacific Northwest climate. So, one year for Mother’s Day, I was gifted a straggly, yearling apple tree. I had no instructions on how to espalier this fragile stem, but through trial and error and the use of lots of twine, the limbs began to follow the plan. When it comes to pruning, I’m a timid gardener, so the top of the tree is now towering over the fence in need of something more than a gentle shaping. In fact, it won't surprise me if it isn't already too stout for the pruning shears.
The temperature dropped last Saturday, threatening a hard freeze and when I looked at my almost bare apple tree, I noticed that there was one green apple hanging from a bough, revealed via the autumn dropping of leaves. This was a banner day, as this single apple was the first fruit produced from this experimental specimen, one that has been neglected and wrangled by this fledgling amateur for more than a few years. I rushed out and picked this precious fruit before the cold could transform it to mush, and for the past four days, I have simply admired it on the counter as I wonder how it should be eaten or prepared to commemorate such a random miracle.
And that’s when it happened. All of a sudden Bobby Goldsboro was singing in my head this song about little green apples and I remembered that I used to listen to that song as an nine year-old and wonder, “Why didn’t God make little green apples?” As that phrase and the tune continued to loop through my head, I couldn’t stand it anymore and today I looked up the lyrics and re-listened to the song. It’s amazing what you don’t pick up at the age of nine. I guess the only thing that was interesting to me back then was a sweet song about apples. As everyone (except me) probably already knew, it is actually a song about how it feels to be loved. The line that leads into the little green apple riff explains it all:
“And if that’s not loving me, then all I got to say is
God didn’t make little green apples. . .”
So, I guess I now have to admit that it must really rain in Indianapolis in the summertime; snow in Minneapolis in the wintertime; that Dr. Seuss, Disneyland, and Mother Goose actually do exist; and we can expect BB guns and puppy dogs for Christmas. Why? Because I have a little green apple to prove it.