the orchard

My paternal grandparents lived in a small town on the north side of my island.

Seven miles away.

We went there a lot when we were kids. Especially in the summer.

They lived in a white, two-story house.

Despite my grandfather’s wizardry with wooodworking, the floors in the back of the house — both stories — sloped. A lot. I always figured that he thought it gave the place character. He seemed like the kind of guy who would feel that way.

If you walked out the back door, and followed the path, you’d find yourself in a small orchard.

We often did.

There were a bunch of apple trees.

Sour apples were their specialty.

My grandfather turned them into cider. We’d sneak into a basement that appeared to be carved out of rock, to steal some.

Raspberries and blackberries fought for space and water and sun in the orchard.

Small animals dashed to and fro.

Small kids hid and sought.

It was a truly wonderful place.

If you walked through the orchard, you came out in a little clearing overlooking the most charming of harbours. Blue Atlantic water. An island with untouched evergreens. Boats of every type moored and bobbing and spinning.

We’d skip rocks down on the shore.

In wet sneakers.

With smiles almost hurting sunfreckled faces.

We’d have rock-throwing contests.

For a while.

However we’d always find our way back to the orchard.

Because on the best branch, on the best tree, in the best spot, there lived a tire swing.

To adult eyes it was just an old tire. Probably off some truck rusting behind my uncle’s garage.

To us it was a magical transportation device.

It was hanging on a thick piece of rope. A rope that, I imagined, had a previous gig on some ancient sea-going vessel. It had stories to tell, I was sure, but secrets to keep.

If you were the first person to get to the tire swing after a rain, you had the unenviable task of rocking it back and forth to get all the water out of the bottom of it.

You always got wet.


But then it was ready.

You climbed in.

And your cousins waited.

Cousins with missing teeth and mischievous grins.

Cousins who have drifted apart, but not too far.

Cousins who, as I write this, are now the parents and the caregivers.

Cousins who would grab the tire and spin it.

And spin it.

Building up what we’d later learn is potential energy.

And then they’d let go.

The kaleidoscope of nature would begin.

You’d open your eyes wide and see it all.



The shoreline.

The steeple on the ornate church.

The old house.

The lovers walking hand in hand down the road with grass growing up through cracks in asphalt.

You’d close your eyes and hear it all.

The birds.

The children laughing.

The tree creaking.

The rope straining.

It would seem to last forever.

And then it would stop.

You’d fall out of the tire, laughing too hard to stand up.

You’d tell everyone it was somuchfun.

You’d wait, with surprising patience, for your next turn.

I miss that orchard sometimes, you know?

I miss that tire swing.

I miss the sights and sounds.

But those feelings of exhilaration and possibility and of being wonderfully, perfectly off-balance?

You bring those back to me every day.

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16 Responses

  1. awwww, the ending was the best part :)

  2. B says:

    I like this because I think of the time spent with my cousins very fondly. We didn’t have an apple orchard or tire swing but we had fun :)

  3. Sid says:

    Simply gorgeous.

    Whoever the girl is, she’s one lucky lady.

  4. Rene Foran says:

    gotta love ’em..those who keep us in balance without even lettin’ on that the tire swing is actually a gyroscope :)

  5. Carina says:

    Beautifully written. It was full of the little details that make memoir writing what it should be. I feel like I lived a few moments of that with you.

  6. Ms. G says:

    That was lovely and I liked the little spin at the end.

  7. Kiddothings says:

    What a wonderful story and such a vivid memory of the tire swing and all you experienced with it. I love this and congratulations on being picked as Editor’s Choice over at freefringes. Well deserved. :)

  8. I like the tempo, the vivid imagery, the memories. Great writing.

  9. Jamie says:

    I feel like I was there too… I love the image of missing teeth and mischievous grins!

    Good luck at lovelinks this week!

  10. Ado says:

    Oh – I loved this – so evocative of your childhood, that tree swing, your grandfather, the boats bobbing. Made me miss your childhood! (-:

  11. Sweaty says:

    Picture perfect place… happy childhood… precious memories. You’ve captured it all!

    My favorite, though, is the end… is it a girl? :)

  12. Sometimes I think “cousin” is the perfect relationship: not so close as to piss you off with every waking breath, like a sibling; not so far away as an aunt or uncle; not a friend who might decide to stop knowing you one day. Cousins remain…you find them again when you’re all adults and you have this raft of memories together, and great perspectives on one another’s parents…the laughter is deep because you’re blood, but there’s less of an edge, somehow, less jockeying for position.
    Lovely. Thank you.

  13. Danielle says:

    Very beautiful post! I absolutely love the ending!

  1. August 31, 2013

    […] The Editor’s Choice winner: The Orchard by Peter DeWolf […]

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