From John Bowman comes the following tribute to the orchards of his childhood and the fruit trees to be planted on Prairie Hill:
When I was a boy of about five years old I loved following my Uncle Charles around his orchard on the ten-acre property he and my Aunt Margaret owned outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Uncle Charles was a man of few words, so I quickly learned not to ask too many questions while he went about his work among the apple, pear, peach and plum trees. Therefore, I didn't learn much about how to grow and care for them. But now that I am moving into the Prairie Hill Cohousing Community in Iowa City, I am determined to learn as much as I can about growing, watering, mulching and pruning fruit trees.
I loved that first bite into a crisp apple in the late Hoosier summer. One of my chores was to gather the fruit that had fallen onto the sawdust mulch around the base of the trees. I remember Uncle Charles explaining that we didn't want grass or weeds growing up close to the trees, because they would steal water that the thirsty trees required.
I also remember his cautioning me to be careful when picking up fruit from beneath the trees because snakes sometimes hid under the mulch. Unfortunately, I heard "steaks" not "snakes" and one afternoon Uncle Charles found me sifting through the woody mulch from his workshop and said, "Didn't I tell you not to do that, Johnny? You could get bitten." I was embarrassed when I realized he was talking about snakes, not T-Bones, which I had imagined proudly carrying into the kitchen for Aunt Margaret to cook for dinner.
I know there are some experienced tree planters in this community and I am hoping some of them have experience with fruit trees. And that they will be willing to take me on as a willing and eager apprentice.
I guess I'd better learn a few things about Iowa snakes, too, and if they are inclined to slither through the mulch of Prairie Hill orchards. I won't be searching for steaks. I've pretty much eliminated red meat from my diet, opting for fish and tofu for most of my protein. And I'm also hoping someone in my new neighborhood is good at making apple and peach pies. I imagine that might be Carolyn, who I hear is a gifted baker. I'll bring the ice cream.