I’ve just come from Mr. Schrock’s office. I’m heading over to the orchard, a captivating, local business with fresh fruits and vegetables and other specialty items that the owner has carefully curated. Their peaches this summer have been to die for (truly), and I’m eager to see what they have today.
In the parking lot, there’s a family van with a large American flag mounted proudly on the back. Entering the store, the tang of apples perfuses the air with the loveliest scent. Gala apples and Flaming Fury peaches rest in large, wooden crates inside the door.
Aha! Fresh pears have arrived. I reach for them, and across from me just by the colored peppers, I see him.
A young man with long, curly hair and a baseball cap turned backwards is shopping, too. And so I say, “Is that your van outside with the flag?”
He looks up. “It’s my dad’s. I’m just driving it while I get my car fixed.”
“I love it,” I say, and when he smiles, I see a row of braces.
“Thank you!” he says. “We love this country, it’s kind of a mess right now.” When he speaks about his dad, he uses words like “goofy,” and “fun,” and “we’re friends,” and I think what a treasure he has, and I wonder if he knows it.
“I love this country, too. One of my four sons is a poli-sci major because he loves America so much, and it really hurts him to see what’s happening. He wants to run for office one day.” That’s what I tell him.
“That’s cool,” he says from beneath that jaunty cap. “I think there’s good and bad on both sides.” I’m nodding, and as we’re talking, I’m filling a bag with those pears.
I find out that he graduated from our local high school, the one that’s just received the fourth and final Schrock. And then he says it. “I never really felt like I fit in there.”
Which is when this mother of the aforementioned boys says, “You know, our first three sons never really felt like they fit, either. What I’ve decided is that if they had had a deep root system here and a tight circle in which they belonged, they wouldn’t have been compelled to go out into the world and do (some really amazing things).” He is listening, this lanky son-of-another-mother.
“I write songs,” he says earnestly. “I wrote one that said, ‘I didn’t think I fit in, but I was made to stand out.’”
I cannot help it, I’m nodding and grinning. So big, and looking at his face, I tell the truth. “I like you! You have a bright future.”
As I turn and head for the register, from behind me I hear this: “You’re cool! Awesome, and I really like it when I meet people like this throughout the day.”
You know, Johnny Appleseed planted seeds that grew into apple trees. We plant other kinds of seeds, you and I, for trees under whose shade we may never sit.
That’s okay. Let’s keep planting.