Friday, October 20, 2006

Apples, Gollum and Me...

You never know when your dark side is going to rear its ugly head. This past weekend we continued the ritual of going to Carter's mountain orchard and picking apples. The experience was complete with apple donuts and a beautiful day. As we were picking apples a kind soul gave our group a pole-picker. This instrument is a long pvc pipe with a jury-rigged wire contraption to grab the apples. It is very helpful to get those perfect apples way up in the tree, beyond human grasp.

We had lots of fun using this new contraption, testing our dexterity, seeing who could get the most apples in one attempt, etc. I began to grow quite an attachment to the pole, after all I was the one who received it from the benevolent giver.

After a while, a teenage boy approached me and asked to borrow the pole to get just one apple. I most graciously agreed. The pole was a great tool. Who couldn't resist wanting to use its reaching powers to harvest ripe apples. It was even possible that apple picked by the pole tasted better. So I relinquished my precious pole for this one time use. One apple wouldn't hurt.

Yet once I let this marvelous tool out of my hand anxiety began to build inside. What if he wouldn't give the pole back? What if he wanted to -gasp- pick a second apple? I already began wondering how I could use the apples as a weapon to immobilize him so I could liberate my precious pole from his pubescent clutches.

But, true to his word, the young man picked his one apple (under my hawk-like gaze...I mean careful supervision. In the wrong hands the pole could be dangerous. We don't want anyone losing an eye, now do we?) He then returned the pole to its rightful steward (me). Now that I was reunited with my pole, I began to realize what a precious commodity this was. I had to beware of people eying this precious pole. I had to protect it at all costs.

Even more, I shouldn't pick any more apples with it lest others would see its amazing apple-picking powers and they would want to use it. No, I would just hold onto it. Plus, I may need to use it as a weapon to fend off the family to our left with their toddlers. Surely the phrase “terrible twos” is descriptive of something, right? And I see those toddlers coveting my apple-picker.

Even as I plot my defense against the toddlers, the teenage boy approaches again. Can you believe it? He has the audacity to ask if he can use the pole again. What's worse, he asks publicly in front of my friends. Who does this kid think he is to want to borrow this pole again? But at the risk of appearing selfish, I go against my better judgment and hand over my pole. How dare he make me have to choose in front of my friends.

He stood there clumsily groping the trees for their precious bounty. He was not worthy of this instrument. Yet it was in his possession and we all know that possession is 9/10 of the law. Now my friends began to leave the “pink ladies” section and move over to the Fuji's. Torn between trying to get the pole back or go with my friends, I realize this young man, my nemesis, is smarter than I gave him credit for. His “strategery” is no match for me. Dejected, I droop my shoulders and turn to follow my friends, like a dog with its tail between its legs.

I mentioned to one of my friends how hard it was to give up the beautiful, precious, jury-rigged pole. My friend looked at me and laughed at me (not with me) saying, "But that pole wasn't yours, somebody gave it to you!" Conviction!

Could my pettiness sink any lower? How often do I cling to something that is not mine, trying to claim it and make it mine? How often do I allow myself to become Gollum over something that is so insignificant and meaningless? And how ironic that my dark side, my selfishness, surfaces in a garden (orchard) surrounded by apples.


  1. After Chris had his realization, he told me he'd be right back and ran over to the kid to tell the boy he could keep the apple-picker.

    The beauty and responsibility of being human is that we have the self awareness to realize our errors and the conscience to make amends. Chris did both that day.


  2. Jason Luther12:41 AM

    Oh man, you must be deliriously angry about the crowbar you left at my house, huh? I'll return your precious soon!