My neighbor has an apple tree that grows on our mutual property line near the drive. By most standards, as apple trees go, this one is a rather poor example…though not through any fault or neglect on Everett's part; he simply acquired the medium-sized tree when he purchased the wedge of land. A tree of uncertain origin and heritage—perhaps wild—it was thoughtlessly planted in partial shade, on a steep, eroding bank. While it annually sets quite a number of fruits, only a very few apples manage to mature, thanks to the ranks of gourmandizing squirrels whose den is in the hollow of the huge sycamore a few yards away. And though I'm one of those wild-foraging apple junkies who almost never finds an apple he dislikes, on several occasions I've tried one of the dozen or so of this tree's apples that somehow survives predations—and the plain truth is, the tree's apples taste bad.
However, every April, this lowly apple tree finds its moment of breathtaking glory—responding to the ancient calling of increasing sunlight, feeling the pulse of rising sap, it bursts out with fragrant blooms worthy of anyone's attention.
Yesterday evening the showers let up for awhile. During the sort of gloaming period before too-dark twilight, I made a series of photos of the apple tree's blooms. The more I composed and shot, the more I became entranced by the subtle charm of the pink-and-white flowers with their delicate yellow stamens. Later, after I'd uploaded the images onto the computer where a single blossom covered the entire screen, I was even more astounded by their incredible splendor.
I think we all have a tendency to overlook too many of those natural delights which are regularly placed smack under our noses. We do this, I suspect, because we're conditioned to desire the spectacular, typically expecting to be wowed, thinking we must be treated to a "big show," a sight so awesome we oooh and ahhh in giddy wonder afterwards. What we thus fail to see and appreciate is the breathtaking beauty in the smaller things, the astonishing comeliness in the commonplace.
Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps that is true in certain cases. An apple tree in bloom is the most commonplace of sights come spring. But look close—there's nothing ordinary about those familiar blooms. In the end, it doesn't matter what the tree's apples taste like…the fact is, our lives can never be overfilled with beauty.