Taste the Place


Sure the fruit was ugly by grocery store standards, but what it lacked in looks, it made up for in flavor. Besides being organic and free of charge, the apples on this seventy-year-old tree  had hints of banana flavor, a crisp, firm texture, and a skin that was more crunchy than waxy: something most commercial apples can’t claim.


The tree hung over the sidewalk; its constellation of apples changing by the day. Each morning as I stopped to harvest a few for my lunch, I was excited to have something so tasty and so perfect at my disposal. That is, until the day I walked by and thought I’d missed the tree. I passed the yard where I remembered it twice before I realized that I was at the right house, but the tree was gone. In fact, all of the trees near the house were gone.


I seethed with anger all the way to work. The tree was much older than the house. It was part of the community. It was one of the subdivision’s ties to the land’s past. Then it was firewood.

But who’s tree was it? I reasoned that the people in the house owned it by law, but how can you own a piece of the community? It was everyone’s tree. Everyone who was cheered by the blossoms in the spring: Everyone who walked under its shady bower in the summer: Everyone who savored its unique flavor in the fall.

And now it’s no one’s tree.


  1. tragic. and an important question to pose…what are the social responsibilities of “ownership” anyway? especially when the ownership is usually so short term whereas the consequences of the actions are lengthy…

  2. Stop by the house and ask for a piece or two. Offer to pay if needed. Bring home and carve a spoon or three and the tree will live on in memory.

  3. Great post Bruce!

    I’m a big fan of apples. There used to be tens of thousands of varieties in the States, and now there are but a few thousand. In New England there are all sorts of old trees lurking about. One friend has a very old apple tree of some unknown variety that makes a *stunning*, and I mean stunning, hard cider that is so dry, and crisp, and bright. It’s like nothing I have ever experienced, and I do enjoy poking around the independent cider world.

    These trees are part of our heritage, like our traditional watercraft. We lose them at our peril, like so much else. You may find the following NY Times article interesting:

    Cheers and Happy New Year!

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