An Apple A Day

Thick gray clouds hung low over the fields and farmyards that my bus rumbled past. I leaned my head against the cold window glass, enjoying being alone with my thoughts. One of my favorite songs was playing on the radio, a man singing the words, “From a Jack…to a Queen,” The drama in his beautiful voice, and the emotions his words conjured up in my twelve year old mind made me sigh deeply.

Riding bus was a new experience. Up until last year, Daddy always drove us to school in the morning, and then came back to pick us up again in the afternoon. I wasn’t sure why he decided to finally use the bus service…but figured that it had to do with the fact that only my eighteen-year-old sister and I were still attending school.

Next year there would be only me left. Two three-mile trips into Stratford and back, twice a day for only one kid probably didn’t seem worth it to my parents. I sighed deeply, “I hate always trailing behind the rest of the family!”

My feelings had taken a battering since I crawled out of bed…just nine hours before. First, there was the fear that my bus would come before I was ready. Then at school I didn’t do well in some of my classes. During recess, I trailed the other girls around on the playground, feeling like an outsider. When they formed a huddle for girl-talk I was told, “Go away! You’re not wanted!”

For some inexplicable reason, my body had decided to grow very fast during the past year making me a good head taller than the other girls in my class. Worse than being so tall, was the fact that I also had the body of a full-grown woman, a very well developed woman. I didn’t seem to fit in physically or emotionally anywhere.

This year, on top of growing into an elephant, I had a teacher that in the past taught two, if not three of my older sisters. I always got the impression from her that I was a disappointment because I didn’t measure up to my siblings.

A huge pool of self-pity started to form in my mind. Mentally, I walked a tightrope over the quagmire, not caring if I fell in or not. Oblivious to the radio and the passing countryside, I ruminated over and over how everything had been so much fun back when I was ten years old. I desperately wanted to go back! Why did I have to grow up?

The bus pulled to a screeching halt beside our farmyard driveway. I stepped down onto the gravel and turned to watch the huge yellow vehicle chug away up the hill, snorting and billowing exhaust. The smell of fresh chopped corn made me turn to look at the silo. Daddy was out in the field behind the barn getting another load. I hurried into the house to change clothes.

Fifteen minutes later with a large, rosie-cheeked apple in hand, I found Daddy in the cornfield. He waved to me and I waved back. The chopper roared and growled as it ate the tall, tough corn stalks and spit them into the wagon hitched behind. Falling in line behind the wagon, I followed it around and around the field as I happily ate my apple.

At the corners of the field, I was showered with sudden, refreshing, short splatters of wet corn particles. I loved the sensation and smell. The sweet apple pulp and juice filled my mouth and empty belly, making me feel content. Overhead, the clouds were lower than ever, seeming to be barely high enough to clear the top of our silo. Instead of looking threatening, they reminded me of a thick, warm, comforting blanket.

If my wounded spirit was not mended, it was at least soothed by Daddy’s nearby presence, the delightful smell of corn and of course…by the sweet taste of my daily apple!

As long as the silo was being filled that fall, I followed the same after school routine each day, change clothes, grab a big apple, and follow the chopper. I began to look deeper at things not normally considered beautiful, like bleak October days and felt a kinsman ship with them. Our exquisite perfection was in being just what God made us to be, two magnificent seasons of change.

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