The Dead Orchard – Jen Best Story

03256-bestpicjenOver thirty-two years since the accident that twisted her brain stem, robbing her of the ability to analyze or remember much of her past, she does remember the orchard but barely remembers the class where she wrote this essay.

She pauses. Sixth grade, she says, then remembers her teacher asked her if she could print a bit larger. She always hated cursive, thought it was ugly, and so she began printing in her unique small style.

She says she really got into her emotions as she wrote it, outside in the deep orchard behind her childhood home, deep in snow where she felt alone with nature. She tried so hard to be descriptive but doesn’t think the teacher said it was. I told her the teacher, who’s name we’ve both forgotten, wrote Excellent! which she can clearly see on the original that I once scanned and printed in a book of family stories.

She hopes you’ll like it, too.

Every winter I looked forward to the snow because it painted the dead orchard, behind my backyard fence, a beautiful clean soft white. The trees stood in even rows alongside shallow ditches. In the spring, summer, and autumn months the trees remained the same; never flowering or bearing fruit. They were frail leafless trees whose bark had turned to black. In the winter, however, the snow gave the lifeless orchard a mystical appearance resembling a scene in one of Walt Disney’s classics. The white magical snow seemed to bring to life the desolate orchard.

At night I walked around the orchard. The snow seemed to glow but it was just the light of the winter moon reflecting off the snow. On nights when the moon wasn’t full there wasn’t much light so the snow gave off a blue-gray color and the orchard seemed more mystical than usual.

Out there among the trees and snow I felt as if I were in my own private world. The night was still except for a few cars in the distance.

I walked around from tree to tree soaking in the tranquility. Eventually I got tired of the calm. I stopped, grabbed a tree by one of its branches, and shook the branch until the snow clinging to it came loose and fell down my back; then I ran home before the snow melted.

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