Appreciating Old Apples

I just happened to be sketching this old apple tree at the edge of a large grassland field along the roadside, when a big Ford pickup slowed to a stop. A man got out and strode toward me. I knew at once he was the owner. Curious about what I was doing, and seeing my interest in his trees, he was eager to talk. He shared a 30-year knowledge of this particular piece of land, the struggles of farmers today, his commitment to raising grass-fed cattle, and quite a bit of personal philosophy on freedom, taxes, America, and good stewardship. He recounted the birds that inhabit his fields (Horned Lark in winter!) and the ones that rarely come anymore (Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Northern Harriers). Twenty minutes later, he headed out and I packed up, satisfied with a shared appreciation of old apple trees in the warm glow of a late afternoon.

26 Comments on “Appreciating Old Apples

  1. A very interesting piece, the sketch with line, hatching and the delicate watercolor finish. How far did you complete it in the field? . The trees character is appreciated, a personality appears to draw one to observe closer. Thank you.

  2. Pingback: Appreciating Old Apples – Tonya LaLonde

  3. I love those kinds of connections art brings! And the warm recollections every time we revisit the pieces. What a wonderful way to add more peace and unity to the world, through your beautiful art.

  4. What a remarkable story, Jean! And a perfect narrative illustrating one of the many and priceless ways to gather information, learn from local knowledge, and probably fostering curiosity positive relationships with and about nature journaling! I hope this gentleman was/is able to view your wonderful post. I love the name Harrier Fields ….. in honor of the harriers that used to visit? Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. You captured this gorgeous tree’s character beautifully with the hatchmarks and falling limb still bearing blossoms! Wonderful opportunity chatting with the farmer – they are so in tune with the land, the animals and birds!

    • Thanks much. I was drawn to the big broken limb (came down last winter in a storm, I learned) and the way it still blossomed. Old apples never want to give up!

  6. Grew up playing in those trees when they were part of my family’s orchard on former Baker Farm. The orchard used to span both side of the road for about 1/4 a mile. The smell of the blooms in the spring was heavenly. Thank you for capturing this fond memory. (I actually saw you sketching!)

    • Hi Meagan- Thanks for writing with that fond memory and you connection to this place. I bet it would be fun to climb those trees even now. I really enjoyed learning more about the farm and I hope to return to sketch a few more of those old beauties.

  7. Oh Jean, this post and your lovely artwork is so heartwarming and inspiring. I really enjoyed reading about your experience with the farmer. He really connected with you and your painting.

    • What was nice was that he trusted me because I had taken interest in the beauty of the orchard. That’s a nice thing given all the mistrust and hostility we read about so often these days.

  8. Just love interactions like this. The unexpected and joyful. Thanks for sharing Jean.

  9. Thanks for the storytelling, Jean. The background info contributes so much to your drawing, otherwise it is just a lovely tree.

    • I suppose there’s always a story behind the artwork, this one just seemed to get wrapped in the page. You never know what you’ll discover when out sketching.

  10. I love this, Jean, the painting, and the story. Your apple tree has all the character that those old ones have but there’s still so much life in it. It’s lovely. Joe & I pulled over to admire a place with old apple trees in northern California one day and had a nice talk with the owner, also curious about our interest. It was much later in the season so we got apples. too! 😉
    It’s sad about cuckoos and so many other birds, especially the insect-eaters, I think. If it makes you feel any better, there are still plenty of Harriers in this area.

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