• Cynthia Mathis

A Time to Plant

That was November 2015. I planted 5 trees with Dad. 3 apple trees, a Gala - his favorite, an Arkansas Black - my favorite, and a Granny Smith (good for cooking pies), and 2 pear trees.

We planted the trees, but Dad held the shovel.

After reading about which trees would grow in my area, I ordered some online from Missouri. Already 2 years old the trees were shipped bare roots wrapped in wet newspaper shreds. I watched videos about planting them, but Dad, the farmer, the soil conservationist, had all the experience.

I penciled an orchard plot labeling which tree to plant where inside a six foot chain length fenced area. Grandad’s old garden plot by the house, near water and protected from deer. Dad had measured footage, placement and flagged our spots considering full growth potential and possible additions to our orchard garden. We started by scoring a 2 ft. square in the bermuda grass sod with a mattock, an ax/hoe combination tool. Then we dug a 2 foot by 2 foot deep hole.

Dad says dig a $20 hole for a $10 tree. In other words planning and preparation is important. Using his formula, Dad’s sweat and with the cost of the tree in mind, we dug a $50 hole, 5 of them. We tamped the air from the dirt surrounding our new bare trees, watered them and waited. Dad said he was an optimist to plant fruit trees at 80+ years old. It would be 2-3 years before the trees bear fruit, if they prosper. I prayed that day that he would eat fruit from those trees.

For the first year we watched, worked and waited.

Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth…James 5:7…NKJ

Dad watched them. I drug the 75 ft. water hose back and forth across the yard and watered in the dry winter, watered in hot summer. Dad told me when and I studied where and how to trim the straggly limbs.

For the second year we watched, worked and waited.

And then the third year in August 2018 the Granny Smith tree had 2 apples. Two apples, but 1 fell off in the wind. 50% of that crop lost. The Arkansas Black had 8 deep red, firm, tart tasting apples on the tree. I counted them sometimes twice a day.


Eight plus one apples after nearly 3 years watch, work and wait.

That August a storm came, a severe thunderstorm with loud thunder, lightening, rain, and wind. Is it odd to pray for the safety of an apple?

Out early and on the way to work, the next morning I scanned the sky. It was a beautiful, clear blue skies, white fluffy clouds morning. I also looked at the orchard from a distance. I couldn’t see it driving thru the back pasture. So I drove back by close to the fence and saw it, the light green, my Granny Smith apple was still clinging to the tip bending its skinny limb. And 8 deep red apples on the Arkansas Black tree. I counted.

Then it made sense to me. It was personal that verse about God caring for His children.

…’he kept him as the apple of his eye…’ Deuteronomy 32:10

Thank you for the rain and for that verse. We-your children are the apple of your eye

your children by grace, by adoption, by the grace of Jesus’s gift, we are Yours, oh God.

We are His children. God watched His children escaped slaves, uprooted from Egypt. He led His children thru a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; He encircled them. Fenced them in so to speak. He cared for them trimming their schragly limbs. He waited for His children to arrive at the land He had prepared for them. He watch and provided food, water and safety.

He watched over, worked with, and waited on His children even better than I watched the 9 apples of my eye.

That October Dad and I marched to the orchard with great ceremony, with Mom our photographer, and with a Wal-Mart sack. We harvested our entire crop.

9 apples!

In the middle of our photography posing celebration, I remembered what Dad said about being an optimist the day we planted the trees years earlier hoping he would live to see fruit from those trees.

I remembered to praise God for remembering my prayer. Dad would taste the harvest of his work. That night I baked an apple crisp. Steaming hot from the oven, I took it to their house about 9:30pm. Big bowls of apple crisp topped with ice cream, we smiled between bites all of us in our pajamas enjoying God’s answered prayer.

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