Today the weather is drying a bit and the sun promises to shine so I can venture outside to finish pruning my fruit trees, which is something I enjoy a lot. I pruned the peach tree back when the weather was freezing, but I’ve had strep all week and don’t think I want to be chilled at this point in my recovery, so I’m glad to see the sun. I like finishing pruning and seeing the tree take shape for setting and ripening fruit. I have been teaching myself to prune for the past ten years or so by reading articles and looking at pictures on the internet, and then one year my uncle John came to visit from his Virginia apple orchards and gave me a huge boost with his advice and knowledge. First thing I know I’m doing wrong this year is pruning later than I should be. But better late than never!
Learning to prune my trees is akin to my learning to cut men's hair. I approach cutting hair rather like I've heard certain sculptors approach creating art. They see a shape in their mind's eye and cut away at the marble or clay until they see the same shape taking form. I see a shaped head of hair in my mind's eye and cut away until I see it happening under my fingers. Usually it works.
I used to cut men’s hair when I was going to college. I did it for free, for the experience. Once I cut an acquaintance’s hair shorter than he wanted. He was furious. I felt terrible, but when he wouldn’t accept my repeated apologies and made my life miserable for a week or more, I decided he had crossed the line. My friends agreed with me: he should get over it, and after all, it was a good cut they said, and it would grow out, and it had been free, so what did he expect now?
I didn't cut my husband's hair more than a couple times for many years after we were married. Now I cut it all the time. He is very particular about how he wants to look, and I am an amateur who will not guarantee a great job. Our daughter studied cosmetology and taught me about cutting hair, about how to hold the scissors and the hair, about growth and swirl patterns, about head shape and hiding problems. She also demonstrated how to cut a moving head, useful when cutting the hair of children.
That is the same approach I’m taking to our trees. I see what I want them to look like, and I cut until they do look like that. I’m a little frustrated with my second apricot tree. It resists becoming what I want. I think today I’m going to get drastic with it. The first apricot tree gave us twelve years of great harvests, but last year a borer killed it. It was the easiest tree in the world to prune. It started with a great shape, and that made it easy. The second apricot tree didn’t start with a great shape. It is determined to have a densely grown center section, and I am determined that it will have an open center.
Let us see who wins today.