Tim lives at the end of a very long road, at the foot the Bluff, and a long way up the valley. His garden is overflowing with life – purple potatoes, green beans, and many apple trees. A rippling stream runs between the cottage and the weaver’s house.
Everything Tim eats comes from his garden. But Tim has one small problem … he has no teeth!
Many years ago, Tim had a cavity in one of his teeth. It drove him crazy. It hurt so badly, and he moaned so much that his wife, Jos, made him go to the dentist. Tim was not a big fan of the dentist, so to avoid ever having to go to there again, he instructed the dentist to remove all of his teeth – even the healthy ones! Jos was not impressed.
“How are you going to eat an apple, Tim?” Jos scolded him, in her beautiful Dutch accent.
“Ach, Jos, you’ll have to take the first bite for me!” chuckled Tim, as he pottered off to his garden.
For many years, that is how they lived. So long as Jos started the first bite, Tim could eat as many apples as he liked. Until one day, when the valley was no longer peaceful. The noise of the stream fell silent, the apple trees rustled, but were drowned out by the sound of a helicopter flying overhead. It had come to take Jos to hospital in Greymouth.
Then the real bombshell came: Jos had cancer and only one year to live – if she was lucky.
We jumped on a plane – three to be exact. Thirty-six hours later we arrived in Christchurch. We drove for seven hours from east to west, climbed the Karamea Bluff, crossed little bridges with big rivers and arrived at the Little Wanganui pub for a fish and chip dinner. The longest part of the journey was that last little bit along the dirt-track to Tim and Jos’s. We had seen gold elephants in Abu Dhabi, and eaten amazing burgers in Australia, but nothing was as beautiful as my grandparents waiting on their porch to see us.
We played beneath those apple trees, made our treehouse in one of the tall pines. We picked purple potatoes and green beans for dinner. We gathered hazelnuts and cracked them open on the porch.
“How will Tim eat apples when you die, Jos?” we asked.
“He’ll just have to make apple stew instead!” she laughed, with a tear in her beautiful eyes.
Apple trees cannot bear fruit alone; they need another apple tree of a different variety planted nearby to help pollination. Tim and Jos were like two apple trees. Their life was full of fruit, but not the sort you can eat. I am the one of those fruits. My Grandparents are my apple trees.
When she died, Jos told Tim to plant her in the earth so she would always be part of this wonderful planet. When I walk barefoot, I feel her here beside me even though I’m on the other side of the world.
I’m pretty sure Tim is still looking for the saucepan to make that apple stew!