Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Planting of a Tree


"There are in fact countries where gardeners do try planting trees."

"Yes ....?"

"But it gets into an awful disorder when it does not all happen naturally. I mean, in France they have for years been planting trees in bakeries, and every CHristmas the pastry bakers are obliged to cut them down and sell them as Yule logs."

"You mean, the French buy their Yule logs where they buy their pastry?"

"Yes, they call it 'bûche de Noël' and it is a very popular commerce around that Holy Season."

Susan looked hard at him to catch even a glimpse of irony in the eye but failed. Even so she suspected he was joking and that the bûche de Noël was some kind of cake. And even so she ate up the apple.

"Now, don't throw the core away, please."

"You want to plant it?"

"I might try to plant a tree just this once, even if that is not what gardeners usually do. Johnny Appleseed went all over the Mid West and helped grow orchards for making hard cider ... let us try."

And Fred Paxford dug a hole in the ground and Susan put the applecore into it. And the gardener shovelled earth over it. While explaining that this was for settlers also the easiest way to uphold a claim to being a settler. Such was the policy of the United States at the time.

"So the main activity of a gardener in England, when not imitating Johnny Appleseed or avoiding to imitate the anarchic gardeners of France, is simply keeping the garden clean?"

"Ah, indeed. When a tree falls down, from old age or from storm, you don't want to have the wood rotting where it fell, you chop it up for firewood, usually."

"Usually?"

"Well, my father once saw an apple tree fallen to the ground with very good wood, he did not make firewood of it."

"Oh?"

"He told his employer, one Digory Kirke, that one could make some furniture of it."

All the earth needed was on the apple seed in the Kilns' orchard, so he had resumed standing leaning on the spade.

"And Mister Kirke agreed, and they made a big wardrobe out of it."

"Oh?" Susan recalled one big wardrobe which just possibly could have been made out of apple wood.

"A huge wardrobe, they hung fur coats in it, you know they are longer than some other coats. Two doors and mirrors on the doors."

"Would that have been in a spare room in his house?"

"Oh, you have seen it? Yes, they kept it in a spare room. Houses were bigger before and during the war, now the Labour Government has reduced the possibility of living on the land like a gentleman."