Andlo, on May 3 that year I awoke to a green so startling as to be almost electric, as if spring were simply a matter of flipping a switch. Hills, sky and forest revealed their purples, blues and green. Leaves had unfurled, goldfinches had arrived at the feeder and daffodils were fighting their way heavenward.
Then there was the old apple tree. It sits on an undeveloped lot in my neighborhood. It belongs to no one and therefore to everyone. The tree's dark twisted branches sprawl in unpruned abandon. Each spring it blossoms so profusely that the air becomes saturated with the aroma of apple. When I drive by with my windows rolled down, it gives me the feeling of moving in another element, like a kid on a water slide.
Until last year, I thought I was the only one aware of this tree. And then one day, in a fit of spring madness, I set out with pruner and lopper to remove a few errant branches. No sooner had I arrived under its boughs than neighbors opened their windows and stepped onto their porches. These were people I barely knew and seldom spoke to, but it was as if I had come unbidden into their personal gardens.
My mobile-home neighbor was the first to speak."You're not cutting it down, are you?" Another neighbor winced as I lopped off a branch. "Don't kill it, now," he cautioned. Soon half the neighborhood had joined me under the apple arbor. It struck me that I had lived there for five years and only now was learning these people's names, what they did for a living and how they passed the winter. It was as if the old app