Like most of my stories lately, this one is long and a little bit rambling. It involves fall and homeschool and books and reading and even, apples. So here we go:
A few days ago Bennett asked me where apples come from. To use one of Bennett’s very favorite expressions lately, Yike! Some homeschool! So I quickly set up a field trip to a neighbor’s apple orchard, where we could pick MacIntoshes and Golden Deliciouses and Braeburns in the fall sunshine.
The apples were all around; many of them were falling from the trees, hitting the ground with quiet thumps. It was an odd sound, disconcerting, but also a little comforting, too. A letting go, if you will. A stripping away of everything else but what is essential, to face the coming winter.
Later, in the night, when the kids were settled and the house was quiet, I picked up my reading, a book by Louise Erdrich called The Painted Drum (HarperCollins, 2005). And here is what I read:
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.
Tears filled my eyes, because it seemed as if the words were written directly for me; as if they lept off the page and became a voice whispering gently in my ear.
And I thought, I’m trying. I’m tasting as many apples as I can.