Down Nature's Paths



September is a splendid month. The glories of summer are tinged with fires of fall and mitigated by the cooling breath of shortened days. September suggests apples. Somewhere it is apple harvest today, and busy hands are polishing and packing the beauties that will later adorn the grocers' displays, then our sideboards, and lastly our tables-good and beautiful to the last translucent slice in the pie. No wonder the Creator gave the primeval pair "the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." Genesis 1:29. And it is a satanic slander that the forbidden fruit was an apple.

Apples suggest apple trees, and apple trees give year-round enjoyment. From the peak of September look back to apple blossoms of last spring and ahead to the blossoms of next spring-Eden of the spring of the race and of life, and Eden of the new earth in anticipation, and in between a lifetime of work, service, and fruit bearing.

There is no time in the year when an apple tree is not pleasant. Blessed is any child who grows up near a thicket of wild crab apple trees. Doubtless other flowers are superb, but to my taste few equal and none surpass the colors, grace, and fragrance of wild crab apple buds and blossoms. Even the fruit, like some people, is not nearly so impossible when properly treated with sugar and spice.

All apple blossoms are lovely. Poets write hymns to Mont Blanc and thrill to old ocean's solemn roar. But some people think the most beautiful scene on earth is California's Santa Clara Valley in fruit-tree-blossom time.

The summer joys of an apple orchard are legion. No other trees are more delightful for climbing, for lingering in to watch the birds' housekeeping. No vista of the summer sky is more soul inviting than that seen while lying on the back under an apple tree.

An apple orchard is a homey place. All sorts of flying, furry, feathered folk live there-insects, birds, quadrupeds. From the apple orchard Bobwhite whistles up the farm boy at sunrise, and the whippoorwill lulls him at moonrise.

And an apple orchard can be a sacred place. Happy is that orchard that has a footpath trodden to a secret place of prayer. Thrice blessed is that child that sees a parent tread that path and return with shining face.

September crowns the apple orchard with harvest, but only if the spring of youth has not harbored the insect eggs of sin.

Even in winter the apple tree is beautiful. Its gracious humility of low-spreading growth is not austere like the giant trees, and its fat buds point to a resurrection.

"As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons. I sat down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet to my taste." Song of Solomon 2:3. The apple tree is a symbol of Jesus Christ, and its year-round pleasantness is a figure of what He is to the soul.