I had spied those red apple beauties from the biking through the church parking lot. The temptation to sneak under the fence into the horse pasture was mounting. But, I restrained myself. It was Sunday after all and you can’t knock on doors asking to eat someone’s apples. I decided that tomorrow after school when folks were working would be better suited to my red apple beauties thievery.
I watched the school clock slowly ticked down. My eraser tapping my desktop certainly wasn’t in tempo with the clock- it was MUCH faster. All through the day, I thought about those apples. I thought about how good those red apple beauties would taste. I thought about their sweetness, the crisp “snap” and best of all, the juice pouring out and onto my cheeks… it was something that couldn’t be beat. Not to mention being all by myself. There was to be no sharing.
School finally came to a close- thank goodness. I grab my backpack and jacket and sprinted to the bus. I was going to sit as close to the front because I needed to get to that apple tree!
Won’t be long now
Safely on the bus, I quickly grabbed a seat as close to the front as I could get. I was in 4th grade and the first four front seats were saved for the “littles”. Not wanting to degrade myself I casually slipped into the fifth seat and took out a book.
Mr. Bender, satisfied with a full bus, looked into the mirror gave a nod to the riders, closed the bus door and we were off. Even though I lived 10 minutes from the school, I had to ride for an hour. Most of the time it was a pleasant ride, but other times a kid just wants to get home!
After 45 minutes of chugging through the countryside, Friesland was in sight. I gathered my items and scooted forward in my seat. I was ready to stand and be first off. Unlike earlier escapades of my younger years, there were no sandwiches to throw into bushes, so there would be no delay there.
Eat my dust
The bus came to a stop. I launch from my seat and made it to the front of the bus just as the bus door swung open. I pounded down the bus steps and hit the ground running. This backpack full of homework was weighing me down, but I managed to keep up a pretty good pace and made it home in record time.
Bursting through the front door, I dropped my backpack and headed to my bedroom to change out of my school clothes and into my play clothes. Then a quick pit stop in the bathroom, followed by a lackluster hand washing and I was out the door. I heard my mom say “STOP!”. Shoot! Delays, delays.
She wanted to know what the hurry was. I explain my plans to my mom somewhat cryptically. To which she gave me “the look”… not very convinced, she told me to be back by five.
Wheels don’t fail me now
My bike was ready. I grabbed the handlebars, started a jog and jumped on-peddling my heart out. I needed to throw anybody tailing me off the scent, so I biked up to the old school ground, around the cemetery and then quickly into the church driveway.
There they were, those red apple beauties. Hanging. No, floating on the unseen air currents… just tempting me. Scanning the area I wanted to make sure nobody else was in the church parking lot. Coast clear. Now, for the challenging part. The electric fence and the horses.
Bringing my bike to a stop, I hopped off. Swinging my foot I set the kickstand and looked into the pasture. Vander Streeks had several horses and they partitioned off three different sections of land. The first section was where the horses normally hung out between the barn and the church parking lot. The second and the third sections were the apple trees and then pasture for grazing.
Checking my options
Stepping up to the fence I could hear the “snap”. So I knew that it was live. With that off my checklist, I looked around for horses. Ah, shoot! Here they come. Horses are so snoopy. They always need to know what you’re up to. Scratching my head I quickly decided to drop, roll and run.
Dropping to the ground I quickly tucked myself into a ball, rolled under the fence, popped up and made a run for the next fence where I had to repeat the exercises all over again.
Safely under the fence, I glanced behind me to see Trigger, Buck and Lightning monitoring my every move. They knew what I was up to and an apple or two would by their complete silence.
First floor. Going up!
Giving a nod of agreement to my three nickering friends, I dusted myself off and assessed the tree climbing. I had climbed this tree before. Just a little bit of spit onto my hands rubbed in good. Then a jump up to grab the first limb. Success!
Swinging my legs up I caught the limb and together with my arms pulled myself up to straddle the branch. The horses were enthused by my progress. Soon we would be enjoying the goodness of those red apple beauties up above. My smile and nod to the horses were met with impatient foot stamping. Get on with it kid!
I took a few moments to scan the houses up on the hill. I have mentioned before that Friesland has the DMU. So I knew all to well to check and recheck to make sure no DMU members were spying on me. Sensing the coast clear I shaded my eyes and scanned the hefty branches above me.
Ah! There it was, or better yet… there they all are! Like picking out a Christmas tree, so many good ones to choose from. Spying a few favorites I pulled myself up to a standing position and began my climb further into the tree.
Good Clean Fun
I loved to climb trees, build tree forts and bike around. It was good to be a kid, outside, getting fresh air and using my imagination. This was “the life”. Standing there on the branch, the wind blowing gently through my long hair, sunshine dancing in-between the leaves- pure heaven. Not to mention the great woodsy Wisconsin air mixed with a bit of dairy and my horsey friends below.
For a bit, I got lost in exploring the tree, scanning the horizon and chattering to myself about the day. Finally, I settled on four red apple beauties and made an apron out of my shirt and loaded them in.
Carefully I climbed down, back to the original branch. Trigger, Buck, and Lightning were ready yesterday for these apples. I threw each horse and apple. It was fun to watch them eat.
How many bites does it take?
Trigger was taking his time by using his front incisors. Neat little nips were taken along with a nod of agreement. It was if he was critiquing each bite and found it completely agreeable with his assessments.
Buck was a plucky fellow. He wasted no time in taking the entire apple into his mouth. Juices flowed freely and a green mash caught in the corners of his mouth. His eyes were closed, neck stretched out and a puddle of apple juice and horse saliva was forming on the ground.
Lightning had grabbed his apple and moved to the end of the fenced section. He was going to have his apple in peace. He stood facing us all, with his back right foot cocked and tail happily swishing, flicking the occasional fly off his stomach.
This is the life
I decided to find safety in the crotch of the tree. One leg dangling down the other pushing up against the trunk and my head leaning back on a bigger branch.
Taking a bite, I was met with a pop as my teeth sunk through the skin into the bright white fruit of the apple. Juice began to pour around my lips. The more I chewed the bite of the apple, the juicier it got. I wiped my mouth with my hand and gave Buck a nod. Now I knew how he felt. The apples were so delicious!
Quite content, I began to relax. I let my dangling leg swing as I enjoyed all my thoughts. The red apple beauties, three interesting horses and the warm sunshine.
Closing my eyes I listened to wind blow through the leaves. I heard the horses blowing air through their noses; searching the ground for one more lost bite. For a moment, nothing really mattered. I felt at peace, content and if this was what heaven is like, I was ready to go.
Michele Bruxvoort is sure to draw you in with her delightful sense of humor and love for living life. She enjoys reading, repurposing, as well as remodeling the family home with her husband. Drawing from her life experience as wife, mom, and follower of Jesus, Michele brings you a very honest and real perspective on life. When you don’t find her writing, you can find her mowing lawns, stocking shelves, taking care of her grandbaby and tackling her latest life adventure.
Wisconsin native and empty-nester, she now makes her home with her husband of 27 years in the South West Prairie plains of Minnesota.