4.27.2010 Chaffin Family Orchard

Honeybees suck nostalgia from orange tree blossoms; I’m not from around these parts, but the smell is similar to Kentucky summer honeysuckle on some vibrant and windy back road.  They say the snout is the quickest route to your memory, and I am a firm believer, living the past and the present simultaneously on a citrus spring day.   In the 100 year old orchard, I simmer somewhere in this century, perfectly content.

Josh, the youngest member of the Chaffin/Albrecht family, knows more about the natural world at 8 years old than most.  As we walk out of the olive orchard and onto the open path, towards the goats and their wobbly newborns, we embark upon a search for clover and chamomile.

“Josh,” I say, “how do I dry the leaves for tea?”

“Well,” he explains, “Hang them up for a month or two.  I guess you could put them in the oven if you wanted, or you can dehydrate them.”

“Josh, how do I separate the clover seeds?”

“Put them on a piece of paper to dry for a couple of weeks.  Then, shake out the seeds and sift them through a colander.  And remember, the colander must be very fine.  My Dad planted all these clover last season.  Soon, there will be so many flowers that they will be all that you can see.”

“Josh, how do I tame a feral cat?”

“I am currently working with two right now.  You need to put them in a cage in a room you most occupy in the house.  They need to get used to you being around.  They will get better accustomed to their new environment when you regularly feed them.  You should also get them out and pet them, even though they won’t like this.”

I am in constant awe that no question goes unanswered.

We collect our bounty of purple, red and yellow, making sure to only pull the largest flowers while keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes.  We found three this morning while moving the orchard ladders, and Josh wasn’t taking any chances, nor was I.

“You have to be careful, especially with the baby ones, they don’t have control over the amount of venom they release, and thus they are the most dangerous,” he explains.

We see his father Kurt at the end of the farm truck path; he is requesting our presence.  His figure is perfect symmetry with his leather boots, leather belt and perfect posture straddling the center of the road; wild flowers and perennial grasses frame the whole scene.

He waits for us, patient and serene, even while Josh decides to lose his sandals in a muddy divot created by the farm trucks bustling with trailers and tools.  Because Josh is still eight, no matter how much he naturally knows, and today, I am however old I want to be.

By: Kristen Houser

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