This post was created Saturday in the front yard of Apple Tree Cottage, in the delightfully cool mountains of North Carolina. A strong, clean breeze blew from the west and played harmonies in the windchimes hanging below the porch roof. I was sitting in my vintage garden chair gazing at this scene in the fern garden. The garden is all that's left after the huge apple tree had to be cut down two years ago. We hated doing it, but the old tree that dated back to one of NC's first apple orchards here on the hill, was nothing but a fat trunk with one live branch sticking out at an awkward angle to rest on the cabin's tin roof. Ivy, planted years ago, had crept up the trunk and across the branch. This branch still dropped withered fruit occasionally, but the main trunk was mostly dead. It leaned a little more each time we visited.
After the tree was hauled off we added more Christmas Ferns to the circle, enhanced the border with more rocks, and planted other flowers as the summers passed. Now the mostly shaded garden is also home to Forget me nots, impatiens, a lovely woods aster that volunteered, Wild Basil, and Cranesbill Geraniums. (The ivy is slowly being removed.) And off to one side of the garden, bravely growing from some old forgotten chunk of rootstock, is a foot-tall sprout of the apple tree for which our cottage was named.
While I drew in my journal Towhees sang from the trees, a crow cawed from a very near branch. Cicadas started buzzing, and two Tiger Swallowtails fluttered lazily around in the sun. Ben pulled out a can of barn-red paint to touch up the front railing near the old sign (it came with the cabin when my parents bought it 35 years ago) that spells out the cabin's name, Apple Tree Cottage. Other than this nothing much happened all afternoon.