Today when I climb I am greeted by a small but interesting change in this tiny kingdom. Some creature has made it a larder. Nestled in a crotch of the tree, where a large limb meets the trunk, right at the top of the ladder, is a small apple. It is bright red and neatly chewed, tooth marks lined up in parallel, working from the edges in towards the center. About half of it is eaten. I am guessing that I have happened onto one of the many secret pantries of the red squirrel that daily torments Nutmeg and Quillan, our dogs, who forever live as though they might some day actually catch it, thousands of utterly fruitless mad dashes over the years notwithstanding. It is far too quick for them and there are stone walls and trees everywhere. A chipmunk does the same, day after day, perching on the edge of the deck to nibble a seed and then, when they light out of the house baying like hell hounds on a hunt, simply pops under the deck and is gone.
But is this not how we live too? Laying up apples among the trees of our days, bits of nourishment here and packets of pleasure there? One for tomorrow evening, another for next weekend? A big one for next summer? Small things to feed us, or to look forward to? We do our best to stock our forests, though it sometimes feels like most trees are empty, like the cupboard is bare. Hence all the running around. And probably why TV was invented. And the tormenting of dogs.
And, with the dogs, we never abandon the conviction that we will one day savor that taste–that eventually some hot, mad dash will end with the small carcass limp in our mouths. It keeps us going. It’s what makes us human. It’s what we do when the trees are empty. Hence all the running around. And probably why TV was invented. Along with the chasing of squirrels.
I leave the apple behind and continue up towards the prayer flags, which snap in the sunlight in a light breeze.