Two Old Apple Trees

May 01, 2012

In a recent lecture for the National Endowment for the Humanities, writer, poet and philosopher Wendell Berry quotes his teacher Wallace Stegner in referring to people he calls "stickers," those who "settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in." Berry's lecture, as is true of all his writings, gently commands your attention and your heart. His words often stir in me a fervor to take care of where I live and a stark understanding of how important a continuing connection to a place is to its health and sustainability. When I go through the deeds on this land, passed down to us from generations of farmers, there's no question that it gave sanctuary to and nurtured a long-line of stickers. Their signs are all around. I have no idea how long the two apple trees above have been there, nor if they were seeded as volunteers or intentionally. I do know that they've stood there a very long time, untouched. Two apple trees, two legacies. Historic records show that the first apple trees in Nova Scotia were planted here by the Acadian French around 1633. A French census of 1698 showed 1,584 apple trees distributed among 54 Acadian families. They lived and cultivated these lands for over a century building an expansive stretch of dykes along the tidal river to protect their farmlands and orchards. After they were deported by the English in 1755, the lands were inherited by successive waves of settlers - New England Planters, Loyalists from the Revolutionary War, and others...all them farmers, most of them stickers. 

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