The apple tree in our backyard in Germany is a measure of the changing seasons. All of the family bedrooms look out onto it, and many mornings we take our time to watch the leaves sprouting, the apples growing, the birds hiding and snow weighing down the branches. Bizarrely for a family with so few roots and sentimental attachments to places, this tree has become a kind of symbol of home. When we are not in the house we occasionally get updates of animal sightings, the changing colour of the leaves, the number of fruit growing.
Perhaps we attach too much meaning to it, but given as my favourite book when I was a kid was “The Giving Tree”, that tree has become symbolic. And so it fit that my first long visit home since I moved to Italy was during Apple-picking season, and every morning started with apple collecting. Usually I miss this ritual, because it’s always at the start of the academic year. Instead I get updates from Mam on how many kilograms she delivered to the local juicer, how many boxes are full again. This year, I was lucky.
The German National Women’s U16 was playing two friendlies against Denmark and through agreeing to a week’s extra work, I also got the bonus of a holiday at home because the matches were just a few kilometres from that apple tree. My duties with the Danish National Football team were the usual, involving everything from making dinner and meal arrangements and getting soundly beaten at mini golf. Unfortunately, the games themselves did not go to our side, and the Danish girls were soundly beaten 4-0 and 8-0.
Once I had finished these jobs and seen them off in the large coach, I returned back home and back to my apples. Every year this tree bears between one and two hundred kilograms of apples, which we shake from the tree or carefully pick. The few prized apples we pick get made into apple pie, apple sauce and snacked on for months. Or taken all the way to Italy, as was the case this year, when I decided that the new friends I made here were in need of home-made apple cake. And just like that my two homes for a short while were connected, and the apple tree brought happiness even in rainy Turin.