An Earthly Paradise

The yellow bellflower appleWendy Johnson

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Apple

At the dark nadir of the year, burly raccoons feast past midnight on the dead-ripe fruit of autumn. Overhead, Orionid meteor showers leave no trace across an onyx sky. November wind scours the world. Early in the morning toward the end of the season, I plant a solitary Yellow Bellflower apple tree at our local community college in the cold ground.

I have been tending this maiden tree for almost a year, ever since a celebratory gathering held last October, dedicated to the propagation and preservation of rare and endangered heirloom fruit. The apple is an ancient member of the extended rose family, radiating out from a parental matrix that includes wild strawberries, blackberries, tiny currants, and quince, as well as pears, plums, peaches, cherries, nectarines, and apricots.

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