This is a story of Johnny Apple Tree. We rescued him via a Craigslist freebie ad from a Long Beach resident’s back yard. The people were nice enough, but they just had no interest in the little lonely leafless deserted tree in the very back of the large yard. Even bald with old brown branches I fell in love when I saw him in the pictures. And in my heart of hearts I knew he’d be happy at our place with several other dwarf trees, a bountiful garden, all in the presence of a grand-daddy Avocado tree. So standing alone in the shade of a garage on that just-rained Thursday after work, we started to dig him out of their ground. The dirt was as easy and forgiving as Johnny was while we tugged and pulled on him. Discovering that he had two very long thick roots growing several feet to the left and right, we were extremely lucky to extract him without causing any major injuries to him… or us for that matter.
As we were trying to fit him in the back of Mark’s truck, the unthinkable happened – one of his long roots broke off in my hand. I felt horrible and my worries went cellular at that moment in time. I tried to stay positive during the ride home, but I wondered if I had just started the beginning of the end of Johnny by rupturing a major artery. Regardless, I happily repeated to Mark half the way home, “We have an apple tree!”
We drove home very slow and easy, only having to slam on the breaks one time for an old lady who randomly stepped off the curb and into our lane. I am not superstitious; this was not an omen! Johnny is whole, healthy and well I told myself! He is strong and can handle much more than a broken limb and an old lady causing him emotional trauma in his time of transfer and transformation. We cursed her under our breaths on behalf of our new baby (who was said to be 10 years old, but appears more like 5), and we peeled off and away from the setting sun of the Westside.
When we got him home we let him rest under the woodshed out of the raining-yet-once-again evening. This is where Mark first called him Johnny Apple Tree. My heart smiled inside-and-out and I knew Johnny had started a new long life with us. I set his broken parts down next to him as an offering of forgiveness, secretly in hopes of a miracle, and we left him in waiting while the rain came down for the next couple days.
We didn’t plant him until the following weekend – up until which time I continually pictured him healed, bathed in beautiful leafy abundance, but in the center of me I was still praying. We dug a nice big space to put him in and took extra care to dig out long stretches for the roots that were there at one time. Laying the roots to rest four feet under the ground where it felt his soul resided, we filled the bed with nourishing compost and dirt, topping it with mulch and much love. We created a circle of bricks around the base of his trunk, forming a protection of sorts…and then I prayed to him:
“Dear Johnny, Thank you for coming to live with us. I think you will be very happy here in our big beautiful, green backyard filled with positive energy and friends of all species. I pray for your speedy recovery. I know we just met, but I hope you know you are loved, Shannon”
I walked away, softly brushing the dirt off Mark’s shoulder, giving him a kiss on the cheek and whispering in his ear, “I’ll give him a couple of years. If he doesn’t live through the changes I promise I’ll let him go.”
A couple days later a visit with my mom resulted in a beautiful gift from the Universe …it was a praying garden angel statue for Johnny that fit perfectly perched right under his branches facing his trunk. I set a garden light next to the angel as she started her soulful work for him, as I felt comforted and soothed releasing my prayer-duty to the much-needed relief crew. This time I whispered to the angel, “Do your best. Please don’t expect anything out of him the first year… and we’ll have to let him go if he doesn’t recover in a couple.” Even then, I knew I’d give him as long as he needed…if I just knew he would live.
“Good night dear Johnny Apple Tree, you’ve got your angel now and she’s going to take good care of you.”
About a month later I hear Mark yell from the back yard, “Shannon, come here, It’s Johnny!” I run from the kitchen through to the dining room, the family room, then the café, turn the corner out the sliding glass door and see Mark bent over by our Johnny. I come to a complete stop and think, “oh no; no, not so soon,” as I start slowly towards them. Mark turns around and says, “Come here, you have to see this, Johnny has a leaf!” My speed increased 10x and I was zip-lined to his side – I am suddenly staring at a little green leaf pushing itself out of one of the newer branches. I am overwhelmingly happy as together our eyes fixated on his leaf and welling up in joyful tears. This time I whisper to myself, “He’s alive; Johnny’s alive!”
A few more weeks have passed and Johnny is starting to weave his blanket of leaves for his autumn fruit. We’ve adopted a lady friend for him whom will produce Fuji’s and we’ve named her Jasmine. This weekend we are planting her right next to him.
So…friends, Johnny is living proof that there is Happily Ever After; there are real angels in the Universe; and prayers do work! And hopefully within a season or two, YOU too will be enjoying the harvest of Johnny & Jasmine via a free monthly exchange of all the fruits, veggies and herbs produced in our local gardens by the Angels among us.
On the wings and waves of the Universe, I wish you all Peace & Love, Shannon