The Spring of Apricots

Although my apricot trees produce hundreds of little earnest white blossoms every year, I have never tasted a single one of their fruits.  It's always the same story -- too cold at night, and too few apricots, but for some inviolate reasons I continue to water and mulch and care for the trees anyway.  In the orchard, hope springs eternal. 

The obscure variety I planted, Adirondack Gold, was discovered growing high in the mountains of New York in a landscape colder than ours.  As such, these trees should be able to handle the most rugged winters Idaho can throw at them.  And they do seem to winter well, soldiering on through stiff winds and deep freezes with no apparent troubles.  

But apricots are precocious, and it is during the spring bloom when things unravel.  As with any fruit tree, as long as the flowers remain tightly ensconced in their protective buds they can tolerate freezing nights.  And then once the fruit has set, forming little bulbous swellings under the senescent flowers, colder temperatures are once again no big deal.  But in between, when the committed flower has fully opened its leaves, things are exquisitely vulnerable to frost.  It is during this showy flowery extravagant time that future fruits are wiped out by cold nights.  Beauty obviously has its vulnerabilities.

Now some people are saying this has been a cold spring.  Others believe we haven't had spring at all because of the rain and clouds, and their feet haven't yet had time to thaw after walking around in flip flops all winter.  But the apricots are saying otherwise.  All these louring storm clouds have insulated the tender flowers well enough that they have now survived for the first time ever.  So by whatever indicators this spring qualifies as a slow one, or a cold one, or a non-existent one, there is another measure that disagrees, and that is the apricots themselves.  To them, this has been their warmest May since they were dug up in a far-off state and transplanted here.  And having been so often frustrated in the past, the trees are now exploding with so much fruit energy they almost seem to be getting ahead of themselves.  This should give me some fresh apricots later in the summer, maybe a few hundred to gorge on, enough at least to make the point that the common and obvious yardstick is not the only one, and perhaps not even the most important one.