This for the March M7Challenge:   
The Poem Challenge:  Nope, it's not to write a poem, but to base a story around one.       Pick a long one, short one, old one, or a new one…heck, use one of  your own, which would be great.

By: Angela B
Disclaimer: Not mine and never will be
Note:  Some lines I just couldn't decipher…so I ignored them
Note: Did my own betaing…ran it through spell check...good luck

Golden Ripe Memories

Ezra held the reins loosely in his hands, letting Chaucer pick the way home. The tired gambler had finished his patrol and had passed the responsibility of the town's welfare off to Josiah. The well-dressed regulator stared off into space as his mind wondered down the paths of thoughts that twisted and turned without any real direction.  After an indiscernible length of time, Ezra finally realized his steady steed had stopped moving and took inventory of his surroundings.

Chaucer had chosen to stop under a shade tree near a babbling stream and was munching away on the summer's dry green grass. Dismounting from is mount, the gambler retrieved two apples from his saddlebag. Slicing one in half, he fed Chaucer his treat. Walking over to a fallen log and sitting down, he stared at the red sweet apple. A smile flushed its way across his face, deepening his dimples as he was carried back in time by memories.

He hadn't been more than nine when Maude had left him with Jack and Priscilla, real relatives he had no idea, but liked them nonetheless. A nice couple with a large apple orchard. As a little boy, he had loved running through the trees, chasing the easy-going man, a man so easy-going that nothing seemed to ruffle his feathers. Jack had laughed at the look that had covered his small face, after he had snuck an unripe apple and bitten into it. Jack's laughter had been so contagious, he couldn't help but laugh too. Jack's laughter was much like that of a preacher's he knew.

Ezra's mind went from eating the bitter fruit to picking time. Jack and Prissy had made him part of their family and as part of the family he had helped with the gathering. Toting empty baskets to the gatherers standing on long wooden ladders. The rails threading through the branches, reaching for the heavens. Carrying pails of water for the workers to drink from and performing other mundane chores and enjoying himself immensely. Inhaling deeply the wondrous aroma of bushels of fresh picked apples. Being a part of something and belonging to someone. Being as happy as he could ever recall being.

There had been a few times when Jack had let him climb up a ladder to the lower boughs and pluck the apples from their resting place. Twisting and yanking them free and dropping them into the small apron Prissy had sewn just for him. Jack calling up to him to keep his feet balanced. The swaying of pulled upon branches making the wooden ladders sway like a rocking chair pushed by a breeze on a summers' day.

After filling his apron full, he would climb down the creaky wooden ladder and empty his apron into the waiting baskets, their bright red skins gleaming perfectly in the hot sun. Ezra could never resist sinking his teeth down into the sweet juicy nectar, enjoying the sound of solid apple crunching. Sucking the juice between his teeth and swallowing it, relishing the feeling as the sugary substance ran down his throat.

At night he would be so tired, no grumbling he would make, as he fell onto his pallet beside Jack and Prissy's bed. His fingers bruised and battered. His feet aching from running countless errands or from arching his ankles to keep his balance on the ladders. Never once complaining or whining, he fell asleep dreaming of being surrounded by baskets of apples shining like red gold.

Ezra remembered the great storage bin dug into the cool earth. He loved the sound of the apples being dumped upon one another. The strong smell of so many luscious fruits stored together in a small confine. He would stand on the top steps of that cellar and inhale the aroma and feel good about having attributed to the process.

What apples didn't make it into the baskets were gathered and taken to the shed. There they were peeled, cored and ran through the press. Turning the once round fruit into lip-smacking, taste-tingling cider. On more than one occasion Jack would miss his apron and drop an apple to the ground for the young brown-haired boy, so happy to help those who gave just a little praise, to collect in his basket for apples going to the press.

Josiah quietly rode upon the serene scene. Taking in the brown-haired gambling friend, sitting on the ground with his head resting against the log. A half-eaten apple resting in his lax fingers and a smile gracing his face, deepening his dimples. The older man watched over his friend for a minute before riding on, leaving the man to his dreams and golden memories.


After Apple-Picking

By: Robert frost

My long two-pointed ladders' sticking through the tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples, I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all that struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could not say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.