Friday, January 01, 2010

Orchard, under Frost

The old orchard was silent under the sharp first frost of the new year. Lucy sidled in through the moon gate, her breath making clouds around her face and her feet leaving tiny number-four prints across the grass of the paddock. This was the long way round to the sleeping trees but she'd poked at the ice in the lake with a stick first, hopeful it was thick enough to skate on. It never was.

The apple trees were old when her father moved here, he said, but for the one her great grandmother had bequeathed Lucy on her birth. That one had been planted by the kitchen garden and produced apples only on one day a year: her birthday. It was magic, her dad said, which Lucy took to mean he hadn't a clue why.

Here, though, among the wizened boughs and gnarled trunks she felt an expectation in the air, a collective holding of breath (if leafless tress could do such a thing) and as she ducked underneath the low branches of a weeping pear that was desperate for a prune she saw why.

Another apple tree, no bigger than Lucy herself, self seeded in the middle of the orchard, one perfect apple still dangling from the bare twigs with a cardboard label tied to the stalk.

For Lucy
Happy New Year

6 comments:

DJ Kirkby said...

"It was magic, her dad said, which Lucy took to mean he hadn't a clue why." Hah, ha, ha, ha! Brilliant.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Thanks Deej :)

aims said...

That is sweet in a sad sort of way. Or perhaps it's just my own mood.

Either way - it's lovely.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Thanks Aims. Lucy would be about eight here, I think.

stephanie said...

Oh, lovely! (And just a touch frightening.)

Leatherdykeuk said...

Frightening? Only if you read the tags (and First lady).