In the orchard I halter Pip to a tree for morning milking. The blossoms are off now, the fruit is set. The trees are old, and of varieties intended for cider, rather than fresh eating, though we eat them fresh, anyway. At least the boys do. In a few months, they’ll not be found without an apple in hand. They know all the best trees already. I used to tell them not to eat too many green apples, that so much unripe fruit might make them sick. Now I see that it won’t be many years until they are gone, and this summer I want them to eat all the green apples they please. Heck, I’ll even pick the ones they can’t reach.
It is raining. Not hard. Just enough to know it’s raining. Earlier, before full light, I’d run, and it had been raining then, too, in this same soft way. I have taken to picking up empty beer cans along my route, and I like to carry one in my hand, as if I were drinking from it, mostly because I think if I were in a passing car and I saw someone running with a beer in hand, it would give me a reason to smile where perhaps before I’d not been able to find one.
But I run early, and on a little-traveled road, and cars rarely pass me by, so the pleasure I get from holding an empty beer can in my hand as I run is imaginary. It’s like this secret joke I carry with me, one that I may never get to tell, but that even in the carrying lightens my step a little.
Done milking, I unhitch Pip, and she ambles off to join her kind. Now the rain has picked up, and the drops form indentations in the foamed layer at the top of the milk bucket as I walk through the orchard.