In my life before last year, I lived in a small town just down the river from my current home. I often walked out the long in-town street on which I lived, cutting across the railroad tracks and down a dead-end street to pick up my own street again as it wove through the historic district, wandering until it became a road with fewer houses and more wild apple trees.
At some point, I started hopping over culverts and making my way through the tall grass and wildflowers to the trees that were set back from the road, trying every kind of apple I could reach. Most were tart or bitter, but every once in a while there would be a tiny, shrunken tree with wizened fruit that looked completely unpromising but yielded the sweetest fruit. Two bites and it was all over, sending me back for another handful, rubbing off dirt from the road on my jeans.
My friend Travis went on an apple walk with me a couple of years ago and we agreed that it should become a thing we do every year, but then I left to travel, so this year we made sure it happened.
We took our long walk in the late afternoon sun, talking about what life might have been like in this tiny place when wooden ships were built on the tidal Kennebec River and there was money for grand homes in any old style you wanted.
There were farms too, and some of the old trees looked as though they were intentionally planted, lasting well past the strength of farm buildings. Most of the trees, though, live on the side of the road, planted haphazardly by the wild things that rely on them for food.
We rambled to the end of the road, the sun glowing through the trees as we turned back and headed toward the local pub for some dinner and music. Apple walks are definitely a thing now.