One of my fondest boyhood memories is riding my bicycle down a country road to buy apricots from a u-pick orchard for my grandmother to make apricot cobbler. 97% of the apricots in the United States are grown in California, and I'm proud to say that I've planted at least fifty of those apricot trees myself. Although this hasn't been the best season for apricots - bees were scarce during the bloom - we've already been treated to my wife's delicious apricot crisp, apricot jam, and apricot smoothies. She has a dozen or more jars of apricots sitting on the counter waiting to set for future enjoyment. As for what's left on the trees now, they are suffering from a variety of ailments including a peculiar disease that is rotting them quickly. Having neglected to spray last winter, nature is having her way with what is already a small crop.
The origin of the proverb "to plant a tree, to have a son, to write a book" - three things every man should do before he dies - is disputed. It has long been claimed by the Spanish and Portuguese, but sometimes the Spanish add "fight a bull". The dictum is also reportedly found in the Talmud. Russell Kirk was known to be almost obsessed with planting trees, finding significance in the fact that men plant trees out of faith in the future, and from generosity toward one's progeny. So it is also with children and books, things we leave behind for the enjoyment and advantage (let us hope) of future generations. Men have motives beyond generosity, to be sure, including an ineradicable desire not to be forgotten among the living once they have passed from this earth. The motive seems selfish, at first blush, but I think it natural and completely healthy if kept in perspective - a shadow of man's God-implanted thirst for immortality. Furthermore, the planting of trees provides an opportunity for the rest of us to remember the dead as we should. We are fortunate to live in a place where many of our neighbors can tell you precisely who planted which of the century-old trees on their inherited property.
Ah, the sound of gravel under the tires. Mrs. C. just drove up with a van full of strangers' children who will be staying with us all week while attending a classical music academy. I should go out to meet them. She's also brought me dinner, God bless her. And then we will say our prayers and maybe I'll read a book, if the house is quiet enough. With the new job I must get to bed on time these days, which robs me of my best hours for writing serious blog posts. I have nothing profound (or even coherent) to say tonight, but if you happen to eat a California apricot this summer, think of me.