Recently, Dave, E., and I climbed a gravel road up "Mount Fuji" in search of, you guessed it, Fuji apples. The sign said to go deep to find the apples so that's what we did, all the while, passing rows and rows of trees picked bare. Sometimes we'd see an apple, one, mind you, way at the top of a tree. We hadn't come prepared like those people who brought long poles and we thought, surely if we just go deeper, there are bound to be apples we don't have to work so hard for.
So we walked and walked and walked. We began to speculate that the whole apple picking excursion was just a ploy to make us exercise. The people who handed us the bags were probably thinking, "Ha ha, suckers. It's time to lose a pound or two," knowing there were hardly any apples left and we'd end up walking a million miles.
We decided to vary our strategy. Instead of traversing down long rows, we heaved ourselves up the mountain and met with some success, albeit mostly by lowering our standards. After about forty-five minutes, we were now willing to climb trees, if only to get one apple to put in our too empty bag.
Dave sometimes had to go fifteen feet up a tree to get one. E. shouted the encouraging words, "Yay, Daddy," and clapped whenever Dave actually picked one and threw it down to us. E. was a big help in the area of a morale boost.
And, of course, if Daddy climbs trees, E. has to do it, too.
We had maybe fifteen apples when we continued upwards and I thought I spotted something: Red! Could it be? Dave said he didn't see it, which was his usual response whenever I pointed out an apple. After looking for the apple I saw and with me giving very precise directions like, "Right there. By those leaves. See where my finger is pointing?" Dave would mumble something about how his color-blindness was not conducive to apple-picking. I'm not usually one to offer sympathy, so I didn't.
All of the sudden, Heaven opened up and shone down on the red I had seen--a tree of life--fruitful and plentiful amongst a sea of barren trees. Frantically we started shoving apples into our bags. It was as if we had robbed a bank and needed to fill our pillowcases fast, before the cops showed up.
"Apples!" E. shouted. Dave and I quickly shushed him while looking furtively around to see if the people nearby had heard him. We feared a stampede like the one on The Land Before Time where the dinosaurs rush to get the last star leaf. But no one came running, and we were able to fill our bags with as much as we could carry.
To this day, that tree is shrouded in mystery. Why did it have SO many apples while all the ones nearby had none? How had everyone missed it?
It must have been God. Now when we enjoy our applesauce and spread apple butter on our warm biscuits, we remember fondly our very own personal Tree of Life.