Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Friday

Yesterday was Good Friday for all of those Christians who follow the Western Pascal Calender. My off farm work closed for a half day in honor of this. The mission church I attend does not have services until 7:00 pm, so I went home to face one of the tasks I hate during the farm year-cleaning up orchard trimmings. I rate job this below cleaning manure from pens or weeding onions. I only do it because:

1. The orchard has been my wife's labor of love, and speaks of the permanence of our marriage and life together here.
2. I have an inordinate love of apple cider
3. Washington State apples in local grocery stores are $1.79 per pound

A retired orchardman from across the border in Ohio comes to prune our orchard. He is an interesting and saintly man, and reminds me of the "dressers of vines" from the Old Testament.The first year, I thought I would haul the trimmings away as he cut. I soon found it was impossible to keep up with a man who arrives at the job with three chainsaws ready to go. As soon as one saw ran out of fuel, he picked up the next.

In the wake of his creative destruction, I must deal with the trimmings. Some of it makes good firewood. I get a few walking sticks and tool handles. However, most of it heads for a burn pile. To prevent disease, it must be hauled some distance away. First I go through and trim the firewood. I tend to dull more chainsaw blades than working in the woodlot. Apple wood grows at right angles, and many odd shapes. As I load the brush on a cart, the whip ends slash my ears and poke my eyes. The cart holds too little, because the apple wood will not stack like other brush. I could cut it smaller, and dull more chains, or haul bigger pieces and get whipped in the ear more. I once tried loading a hay wagon instead of the cart, but the wagon would not fit in the orchard rows.

There is no way around this job. While I do it, I try to focus on a future beatific vision of a Fall day, when we take a load of apples to the commercial press down the road. I look forward to pressing a small load at home with my friend and neighbor, a local dairyman. We do this the old fashioned way for the pleasure of catching up with each other in our busy lives, and enjoying good food. I remember with gratitude that we actually own these trees and the land underneath. And finally, being Good Friday, I recall that a poke in the eye and a stinging ear are only dust in the face of betrayal,scourging, mockery,and crucifixion for the sins of the whole world. I have no case.

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