Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Little Orchard History

In my humble opinion, being an apple that falls close to the family tree is nothing short of an honor and a privilege. I can't count the number of times that I've exchanged giggles and glances with my sister when one of us does something particularly reminiscent of our mother and the other says, "You're such an apple." I imagine, as my sister is now a mother herself, that these occurrances will become more frequent with age and that perhaps we are and always have been even closer to that tree than we realize.

I say all this because of a few fantastic photos my mother recently passed along to me (accompanied by stories of course) that reminded me of how our apple seeds get planted.

Meet my great grandmother Dorothy (pictured with her pup in the cottage garden in England). On the back of the photo she wrote:

"The duchess with her pet? dog: Whiskey. The swine so named because he is black and white - not because he is [posh/food], like the beverage. His right leg is still in the plaster cast. The other leg is naturally white. The duchess had somehow got her skirt caught up - showing a lot of her leg, but she is not usually so brazen. Not much! Hydrangea at the back of me on my right. Both plants have been a picture this year."

Who knew that the inclination to bring a little black and white, trouble-finding dog into the family, give him a name that may or may not have something to do with libations, and take photographs with him in the garden was genetic?

Another gene often expressed in apples from our orchard is visible in these photgraphs of my mother with her gerbils, Alfie and Linus, in she and my father's attic apartment in Illinois in the early seventies. (I am confident that the pic of the little fella in the pot was for fun and scale only, by the way.)

Not long after Alfie and Linus passed on to gerbil heaven and Jenny and Greg (two female cats) had joined the family, my mom heard the cries of an abandoned baby possum and loved him dearly through his short life. The spirit of the unconditional love given to Punky the possum surfaced in my own heart just a few short months ago with the lovely little rat, Templeton. Perhaps the tendancy to love what nature (red in tooth and claw) sometimes deems less-lovable is quite possibly written into our DNA as well.

I could go on and on about out family's pet history... CJ: the sweet, shy and mangey dalmation puppy my sister and I adopted off the back of a truck parked outside our then place of employment: CJ's Pub. Tackle and Ziggy: tabby cat brothers that kept us company throughout our teens. Jesse: the next door neighbor's dog we treated like one of our own... But I suppose the point is that pets not only bring love and affection into our homes and hearts - they become a part of our family history, our folklore, and remind us that love comes in all shapes and sizes and while their lives may not be as long as ours, their memory most certainly can be.

And to have the capacity to love like the apples before me - like I said - is an honor and a privilege.


becky said...

beautiful post and pics...cannot get over the black and white dog from what has to be the early 1900's...go figure

Deborah said...

Uncanny, right? I called Mommom to inquire about how the dog's leg got broken and what that one word (that I struggled to decipher) was but no word just yet.

Neeks said...

Great story! You definitley have your great-grandmothers apple, nature loving, soul! What I find funny is that the pic of LM is probably around your age now and we can duplicate it with Jaurez! (minus the awesome glasses of course)....

Deborah Dramby said...

The good news is: my glasses are equally as nerdy LOL. The bad news is, those gerbils loved her (like Templeton loved me) but Juarez (aka Feifal, Templeton 2) isn't so content posing for the camera.

And Becky - Keep meaning to tell you: I saved a mouse from a terrible fate (snake food) last week. She looks a lot like the female guinea pig agent in G-Force.

Anonymous said...

Lovely article, sweetly written, much appreciated. Ah yes, those glasses....LM