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Excerpt from "The Appleseed Journal"

by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff


The Planting

Now that I am at journey’s end, I have had time to reflect. Looking back across the years is a characteristic of the old. Slowly, ever slowly, I have joined this group. Like the great Swede before me, I wish to leave a trail that others might follow. Perhaps if they heed my suggestions their road might be a little easier.

Know the path which I have chosen, nay, the path which has chosen me has been both a difficult and glorious one. There have been many harvests and many storms. Often I was unable to see the outcome of events. I did what was set before me.

Like the farmer who is working the field, in the hot summer sun, I focused only on the task. Somewhere deep inside, I knew if the conditions were right, a golden harvest would yield.My task was to work the field and plant for those who came after me. In some small way, as God Wills, they might benefit from my writing and labor of love.

With this goal in mind, I commit my Journal to the ground. Hoping the seed will sprout, in some future generation, and another will find and share its fruit.

 

Entry 1: A Change in Plans                                                       

I have decided not to attend the yearly Convention for the great Swede in Philadelphia. Having heard an inner call to record my travels, I have made my way back to the hills and valleys ofthe country north of New York City. Here I spent many a day learning the ways of the woods and river with my Algonquin friends. As a young man, these fine people took me in and helped further develop my great love of the land.

I am wintering on the land of an old friend named Willis. He bought seedlings from me nearly 50 years ago. Some of these hearty trees are still standing, bearing delicious fruit.

I have erected a simple cabin and will stay here until the spring or the wander-lust strikes. During this time, I will set down my remembering’s.

Among friends, on a land I love, what a wonderful place to look back across the years.

 

Entry 2: The Frontier

Early on it became clear my role was that of helping others find their place on the frontier. By selling apple seedlings and herbs, I helped thousands across the rough spaces. From the seedlings, fruit came forth which stilled their hunger. The herbs helped their bodies fight illness of the breathing and fevers.

Mine was the job of watching the next western movement and helping the settlers adjust to their new homes. To grow seedlings, I rented plots and bought others. The land was my friend; it clothed and fed me. Through the love in my hands, the apple seedlings grew by the thousands.

Over the years I also became aware of a greater frontier; larger and finer than the new Republic.Through the writings of the great Swede, I learned of the inner world. This is the lasting world; the world which mirrors are physical lives and expands into eternity.

Once the land is conquered and the needs of the body met, it is time to turn your attention to the greater frontier. Each person must come to a balance with nature and work the land. Similarly each must master their own soul.

The Republic is a new country; a land full of freedom. In this wonderful expanse there is room for all manner of beliefs. This country was founded by men and women who sought two freedoms: freedom of the land, to own and work it for them self, and freedom of the spirit, to live and worship as they choose.

These are the two frontiers I came to love.

 

Entry 3: Oneness of Nature

Living in nature tests a person. Each day is filled with opportunity to create and live by your wits.You learn to trust your abilities and master your environment or you die.

Over the years, I have looked death in the face many times. I have a fear and a love of death.

My brother the trout gives-up his life so I might live. The apple falls to the earth, opens and ants enjoy the pulp. Are these events insignificant? Hardly they’re aspects of the same experience. They are part of life.

There is oneness in nature. Few things are wasted. The trout’s bones go back into the earth and become food for hundreds of bugs. As the apple rots, its seeds go deep into the earth. In the spring, green sprouts of another tree blossom.

You see, we are all part of this oneness, economy and beauty.

Many have been the day when I did not speak to another. Many have been the month when my only companion was the chipmunk, otter and blackbird. In these quiet periods, my soul learned to sing.

Long before I met the great Swede, through his writings, I knew there was a part of me that would live on. I saw this every day in the woods. The earthworm became part of the robin and the robin eventually returned to the earth.

Death was a change for the body; nothing more.

In every living thing I grew to recognize the divine spark of life. This energy, this potential, was the life giving force. This force was part of everything and connected all things; in man it was called spirit.

Who or what gave us this life? All creatures bowed before this Majesty. My brothers, the Algonquin, recognized this life force as the Great Spirit. They considered themselves children of this Spirit. My family and friends back in Massachusetts recognized this force as God, with Jesus as his representative.

I have come to love all creeds for they are expressions of this life force. Through the years, I have learned to listen to its quiet call. Within each there is a capacity to hear its voice and expression.

 

Entry 4: A Restless Soul

This winter has been particularly cold with many snows. I had forgotten what it was like to shiver in the cold and move closer to the fire. The cold has captured my bones, makes me weary, and reminds me of the fragile balance between life and death.

It has been many years since I wintered in a lean-to. Now I live in a one room log cabin. As the years passed, I found more comfort in a one room log. I have lost count of how many lean-tos and one room logs I called home.

I was born a restless soul who had trouble sitting still for very long; there was a void and emptiness inside and I longed for something I could not identify or describe. I was constantly looking ahead wondering what waited on the other side. This unease pushed me forward; I climbed many a hill and came upon many a green valley. These views, these landscapes filled me with love and awe. How I loved the land and its beauty. How in awe I have been for the Reality which gave it form. We are all connected to this Reality and must never lose sight of our connection. We are children of the earth mother and our father is Lord of the Sky.

What message can I leave you? What piece of advice will serve those who come after me?

Each is created with a potential and a capacity. This potential is what we can become. This capacity is the ability to know and be one with the Creative Force.

My life has been different than that of others of my time. By that I do not mean that I was the only one to plant apple seedling and herbs. O there were many who did this. Perhaps they will be remembered and I will not. My point is that this was my destiny; to live on the frontier and to be a point man for others who came later. This life was inside of me. This restlessness found its expression in the form of solitary husbandman who sold seedling to others.

The only peace I found was in the work I did and those quiet moments when I spoke with the Creative Force. I have always been looking for something and this drove me on from one settlement to another. I planted, moved on and back tracked to keep the seedlings healthy. Sometimes I left the tracts in the hands of a trusted friend. Other times they were left in the hands of the Heavenly Father.

Often, this potential, this restlessness, would not let me sleep. It pushed me on to question, to explore and finally to know.

Remember, along with the potential is the capacity. It is part of the seed. The capacity to find and know also exists with the desire to reach upward. This capacity to experience the Creative Force has afforded me those moments and opportunities to rest and be nourished.

The cycle of work and rest must be heeded by all. All those long lonely winters, when I wondered what or who had called me to live the life of traveling orchard keeper, always found their answer in the Father’s Name.

It is cold in this cabin and the winter snows have covered the land, but the name of Jesus is my fire. As I move closer to the flames and try to still my shakes so I have repeated the Holy Name until I no longer doubt or am troubled.

The most peace I have found in my work has been in the spring when the young seedlings have reached upto the sun. The most joy that I have found in life has been in the Name of God.

The great Swede taught,e ach man’s journey is different and the same. It is the same in the aspect; we started in God and must return to God. It is different in that we have different abilities and must choose to accept our individual destiny. No two people live the same exact life. Each life is unique and each must choose to make their commitment to God.

People forget that life is something you make-up as you go along. Each day is filled with opportunity for different experiences. While portions of each day are laid out for us with chores and responsibilities, much of life can be new and exciting.

Whenever I felt myself becoming stale and complacent, I challenged myself to do something. When I was young I would pick myself up and go a wandering, looking for another hill to climb. Now that I am a little older and not so filled with energy, when I feel this way, I try to do something good for someone else. This brings me joy and I have some fun in the doing.

Tonight I have been invited to Willis’ for dinner. Of course, I will bring some of the Swede’s writing and try to turn the conversation in this direction; and I have almost finished whittling the walking stick for little Jeremiah. He has been interested in my walker so I thought to make him one of his own.

This simple act of giving to another fills me with many good feelings. I look forward to his smile and hopefully enthusiastic reaction.

O I am cold. No matter how close I get to the fire, I cannot get the chill out of my bones.

How I long for the warm, spring, sun.

 


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