Our yard in Berkeley–it’s a work in its twenty-fifth year of progress. Or at least it’s been 25 years since we moved in here and the yard became our charge and responsibility. It has changed dramatically. The giant old Monterey pine that dominated the space (and often stirred anxiety during windy winter storms) is gone. The old clapboarded garage that the tree’s root was slowly lifting up and displacing: gone. In their place: a small addition, a patio, a small shed, a lawn that we put in several years ago. Plus an apple tree, a few bushes, several Norfolk pines in pots, and a lush expanse of oxalis that during the last couple of months of wet weather have taken over every last unclaimed square inch of ground (“unclaimed” meaning the large areas given over to a variety of dry-season grasses and weeds the rest of the year).
The apple tree back there is largely untended. The fruit seems to get shot through with worms before it’s ready for us to eat (or maybe I’m too picky about eating apples with a little wildlife in them). Looking this morning, when I went out in the back yard to experiment with a new macro lens (a Christmas present from the boys), I noticed there are still a couple of apples in a picturesque state of decay still hanging on the branches. Nearby, more picturesque decay: thriving in the rain and cold, mold and moss and lichen spread along the redwood fence between us and the neighbors to the south. Some years from now–maybe 25 years from now or maybe a little sooner or later–that fence will go back to earth, with the old apples and the piles of weeds and oxalis that get taken away for compost. Today, though, I can’t help but notice the buds getting ready to burst forth on the apple branches.