Apparently it is National Apple Month. So, when I saw that Mama Kat was calling for pieces inspired by apples, I decided to dust off this old story that I have shared before because it still makes me laugh even after the war has been won.
We had planted an apple tree years ago and had grown several crops. Every year we saw the branches fill with apples. We watched as they got closer to ripeness our mouths watering at the thought of the yummy treats a tree full of apples could produce. Every year just as we had begun counting down the days until harvest, we would go to bed one night with the vision of a luscious tree of fruit in our heads only to wake the next day to empty branches. No sign that there had ever been apples remained. Apple, core, stem, all were gone along with our dreams of homemade applesauce and the crunch of a sweet juicy apple.
This was an affront we could no longer tolerate. So, we became detectives looking for clues. Chief suspects? A yard full of squirrels, the mama possum who brazenly scaled the back fence each night, and the raccoon we fought to keep out of the chimney.
Each growing season saw a new plan of attack. We researched natural repellents for each of the suspects. We sprayed the tree with hot pepper spray. We covered the tree from top to trunk in netting. We placed a covering on the trunk in an attempt to make it impossible to climb. Each growing season began with high hopes for our latest battle plan only to end with a stripped tree.
Finally, my husband had had enough arriving home one night with a live trap in tow. When I asked what would happen if he actually caught anything, he grinned and said we would figure that out if and when we had success. Up the trap went to the roof of the sleeping porch. It was fortified with cat food which was reportedly irresistable to chimney-seeking-raccoons. Every night my husband scaled a ladder to the rooftop to bait the trap. Every morning back up he went to find the trap sprung and the food missing. This was our routine as the high school prom approached.
When my daughter and her date arrived home in the wee hours they startled a humongous raccoon. Attempting to shinny up the downspout, the portly (apparently from eating trees full of fruit) rascal lost his balance somewhere near the roof. He scraped along the uneven rocks of the second story as he tumbled down the side of the stone house. The kids hurried in wide eyed as a thud sounded in the bushes. The next morning there was no sign of the raccoon himself but the side of the house was covered in a trail of raccoon blood. War is hell.
One villain down-literally, the trap and the battle moved to the back fence area. To our surprise it captured not one but two opossums. There is a trick to removing these unattractive creatures from the trap as they really do “play possum”. You can be completely certain you are removing a corpse when suddenly faced with a mouth filled with tiny spiky teeth and a spitty hiss issuing forth. It wasn’t pretty. Suffice it to say the opossum family no longer resides out back.
While Man vs. Wild played out on Westwood Drive, the tree silently produced its best crop yet. We were optimistic, but not overly confident. The yard still teemed with dozens of squirrels who had not been eliminated as suspects. They seemed to taunt us with their chipper scampering around the tree, but each morning we awoke to branches still brimming with apples. Although we still don’t know who the real culprit was, when harvest came the apples were ours for the picking.
We enjoyed apples that fall until we could eat no more. They make a healthy treat which is important. We need to be in tip top shape because apple season is just around the corner, and we must be prepared for battle.