Thursday, June 18, 2009

Apple trees in suburbia

Recently I saw an article about councils down in Melbourne coming around to the idea of urban food production to the point that they are talking about planting fruit trees on curbside nature strips.
What an awesome idea! I sometimes think back to when I was a kid and our neighborhood still had elements of the rural area that it had been. I remember the creek at the bottom of our street, the open paddocks that were all around, and a horse that would sometimes wander into our front yard.
Our area had been old farming properties and there were remnants of those places that still remained long after most of the land had been converted into house blocks or roads.
I remember the old open aqueduct that used to be full of water and visiting the remaining cow paddocks to collect manure. There was an abandoned farm on a large patch of open land that eventually became the Northern Ring Road. And there were old plum pear and apple trees that in many cases wound up fenced into peoples yards or bulldozed.

Lots of things have changed but some still remain my memories are strong and I miss some of those old things. So many people have come and gone from that place where I grew up. I wonder if any of them notice the changes or the remnants of things that existed before they arrived.

Watsonia station (apple tree)
Apple tree survivor of many changes

A year or so ago I was walking down the main road of my home town and noticed one of those special remnants from the time before. It was a single apple tree perched on the tiniest of scraps of land between a busy road that has undergone some widening through the years and a railway line that has been excavated to several meters below the surface of the land.
Ever since I saw that tree my mind has often drifted back to what my town was like when I was a kid. I wondered about the farms and the farmers, their animals and their lives. As I got older and roamed further I often wonder also about what and who was there before them. I explored and made all sorts of discoveries. Old gold mines abandoned quarries, discarded machinery all those kinds of things. Although I dreamed and I wondered I never found anything of the people who were there before them all. The people who must have lived around and loved the river that I swam and fished in. The people who would have known all the waterholes and special spots I liked to think I'd discovered. There were no obvious signs that they'd been there at all. It was only my wondering that seemed to give them any life at all...

When I go back there I look for that apple tree and wonder how many apple trees had there been. Who remembers them? How many are left..? Who notices them? I hope someone does. These things are special to me. Amid all the changes; the concrete, bitumen and steel, that tree is still there. It might survive long enough to see more changes. It could bloom one day to find a street full of apple trees have sprouted, and the songs of the old people might be heard.
Is there yet time for these life giving fruits?
(another rant!)

1 comment:

Theresa said...

One of the things I love about living in the tropics is that there are food plants growing everywhere. The bike path along the river here is lined with mango trees, especially this one section that used to be someone's private orchard and is now park land. They're free for the taking. Same with coconuts, bush almonds, and all the other goodies that grow naturally around here in the parks.