A Dance in My Orchard

A Dance in my Orchard

by Richard Hoyt

No internet. Guess that means I’m supposed to write. Put heavy cream on Jeannie’s granola this morning. Still feel the thickness. As it congeals around my heart, no doubt.

Spectrum technician is here. He’s working on the TV connection, I think. Another beautiful day here in S. Lubec. Nary a cloud in the sky. I will go out and pick the remaining apples later. Made a second batch of pear sauce yesterday. Delicious!

A long, wonderful chat with Jennifer yesterday. She’s doing so well. And content with her life with Chris in Minneapolis and up at Chris’s family farm north of the city. They grow most of what they eat on the farm and bring it back to the city. East Hill took, with her. And with Jon and Will in different ways. “I’d be in jail if it weren’t for East Hill,” Jon told me once. And helped keep Will on a good path, too, I think. I imagine them reading this years hence and smiling. “Your old man did his best,” I say to them.

“You did, Dad,” they each respond.

“I’ve lost the internet, too,” Jeannie just came in to say. “Why did we lose the internet if he’s just here to check the TV?” she asked. Rhetorically, I hope. Anyhow, it’s a message: “Write!”

It’s Sunday, and 10:00. Time for Quaker Meeting.

Nope. Still no internet. That means no Quaker meeting. The message: “Write!”

Or go for a walk in the sun out in my little orchard.

Once I went for a walk early one morning amidst my apples and pears. A gnome popped up from between the Sweet 16 and the Clapp’s Favorite.

“Good morning, kind sir,” he said, tipping his bright green triangular cap. “Your pears are delicious!”

“Help yourself,” I responded. One doesn’t risk offending strange critters in Lubec, Maine. “I’ve been wondering who’s been nibbling on those Boscs. Thought it might have been mice. Glad to see I was wrong.”

“You’ve got a nice little orchard,” he said. “I’ll recommend it to my family later tonight.”

“Your presence is a blessing,” I said with a smile. “It’s nice to share the harvest with a kindred spirit in these troubled times.”

“Oh, the times have always been ‘troubled,’ he said. “It’s what’s in our hearts that counts.”

“I agree,” I said. “What brings you out and about on this bright November morn?”

“It’s the night of our annual dance,” he responded. “I’ve been delegated to invite you and yours to join us.”

“Me?” My eyes widened and my jaw was agape. “Why me, my little friend?”

“You hear the music, friend. It’s in your soul. We know who you are. We bless this orchard with our dance.”

I was stunned.

“Will you and your wife join us tonight?”

“We’d be blessed. At least I would. Let me ask Jeannie.”

I ran into the kitchen where Jeannie was stirring the latest batch of pear sauce in the cast iron pot.

“You won’t believe what just happened!” I exclaimed as gently as I could.

Jeannie stopped stirring, dropped the big wooden spoon into the sink, smiled warmly, and said, “You’ve been talking with our orchard gnome, haven’t you?” she said.

“How did you know?” I asked.

“Some of us just know these things, my dear,” she answered. “Of course I’ll join you in the dance.”

And out into the orchard we went that night.

And we danced. How we danced! Light on our seventy and eighty year old feet, we leapt lightly over the heads of the multitude of those green capped tiny folk. Violins, small but vibrant, played under the Clapps’ Favorite and Sweet 16’s. The Jonathan, William’s Pride, and Jennifer sounded a high pitched chorus on the western breeze. The trees themselves seemed to shake and shimmy under the stars swaying in the gentle starlit southwest wind.

Oh joy! Oh lightness!

We never stumbled, we never fell. We held one another tightly, Jeannie and I. We sensed the fragility of the moment. I felt as if this eighty-three year old heart would burst with love for the world.

And for my trees.

And for the sacred folk who live amidst them.

And keep us safe in these no-more-troubled times.

May we all dance
Under the stars
And hold fast to our dreams
In the orchard
With Jean.