On the George Washington Berry Project


In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the firethorn.

Orange is one of the best colors in the autumn garden.

It will have to sustain us through the winter.

Fortunately, we never get tired of looking at it.

Today as we contemplated the clusters of tiny fruit, illuminated by the eastern sun, we remembered how as a child we used to play under a tree — in our memories, at least, the bark was silver and peeling, like a birch — which like the firethorn possessed similar berries that we used to collect in a bucket and give to our mother, knowing that orange was her favorite color. One day, however, we came home from school and were dismayed to find the tree gone — we now suspect it was a mountain ash (sorbus aucuporia) — in its place only a stump, some flecks of sawdust and a few scattered berries in the lawn. We gathered up the last of these and presented them to our mother who, with tears in her eyes, explained that the tree had been diseased — you could see the vein of rot even in the stump — and had to be cut down; only later would I understand her reluctance to ever replace it with a new one.

— The Gay Recluse, September 30, 2007

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