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    The Next Generation

    Last week, Ben (our BOP Program Coordinator) and I were approaching an overgrown lot which once had aspirations of becoming a neighborhood orchard. We were checking it out, hoping to help realize its dreams. The weeds were as tall as I – a towering 5 feet or so – and as thick as molasses. To fight our way in, we needed to clip away some hops that were vining up and around the gate, and then to clear something of a path to check on the young trees that were somewhere inside. I went to my car to get a pair of loppers, and as I approached the gate a second time, this time armed with a sharp instrument, a small boy, about 5 or so, came tooling down on his scooter. He stopped a stranger-appropriate distance from me and plaintively, so plaintively it could break your heart, said, “Please don’t chop down the apple tree.”

    I assured him we were there to help the tree, not chop it down. We were going to figure out how to help clear the lot. He immediately disappeared, and came back with a shovel!

    I sadly had to tell him it would take more than a shovel to help clear the lot and that we weren’t going to be working on it now – but that when we did, we would very much welcome his help.

    He went away, somewhat disappointed – he was hoping for an adventure and to be helpful – but came back now and again over the next little while to check on us. Just before we left, Ben braved the thicket and discovered the two apple trees that had been planted there two years ago. One had one lone but lovely apple on it. That was the entire harvest.

    Ben picked it, and we gave it to the boy.

    Here’s to a whole bushel of apples next year.

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