It was supposed to be one quick stop to snap a photo. Plunging overnight temperatures had put crops at risk and I needed one picture of one frozen bud on one apple tree. Period. I had multiple stops last Saturday and agreed to swing by the Apple Farm in Victor on my whirlwind tour.
Enter Munir — quiet, unassuming king of the orchard.
No, he did not want to check blossom buds right next to where my van was parked. Better up the hill, he said. A bumpy golf cart ride put us at the epicenter of his kingdom, looking out over endless rows of apple trees. They seemed healthy, full of promise, ready to bear sweet, succulent fruit.
Munir inspected bud after bud, explaining that if even a hint of brown appeared inside, the cold had been too much, and there would be no fruit. Methodically, thoroughly, he examined one — it was brown. Then another — also brown. Then five more — brown, brown, brown. He moved from location to location, testing buds, looking for one that showed even a hint of life. There were none. I snapped photos of him as he worked, from every imaginable angle, sneaking peaks at my iPhone to check the time in between shots.
Clearly he was in no rush. Munir moved purposefully through rows of trees, his expression peaceful, like a man who had long ago done battle with nature and knew his place in the pecking order.
"What are you going to do?" he said of the damage done.
His voice was respectful, resigned, honoring. This partnership — this alliance with nature was new to me. I fight the weather. He greets it like a beloved life-long companion.
Munir's apple empire will rise or fall depending on the weather, and it doesn't look good for this year. But watching him watch over his orchards made me take a breath, refocus, and reconsider the battles I fight.
Can I win them all? Probably not. Should I keep wrestling with them all? Also probably not.
I put my phone away, stopped taking pictures and just listened to Munir talk about his farm. It was a good afternoon. I can't remember what else I got done that day.