October 28, 1857

in Thoreau’s Journal:

Going up the cliffy hillside, just north of the witch-hazel, I see a vigorous young apple tree, which, planted by birds or cows, has shot up amid the rocks and woods, and has much fruit on it and more beneath it, uninjured by the frosts, now when all other fruits are gathered. It is of a rank, wild growth, with many green leaves on it still, and makes an impression, at least, of thorniness. The fruit is hard and green, but looks like palatable winter fruit; some dangling on the twigs, but more half buried in the wet leaves, or rolled far down the hill amid the rocks. The owner, Lee, knows nothing of it. There is no hand to pluck its fruit; it is only gnawed by squirrels, I perceive. It has done double duty, — not only borne this crop, but each twig has grown a foot into the air. And this is such a fruit! Bigger than many berries, and carried home will be sound and palatable, perchance, next spring.

Who knows but this chance wild fruit may be equal to those kinds which the Romans and the English have so prized, — may yet become the favorite of the nations? When I go by this shrub, this late and hardy, and its dangling fruit strikes me, I respect the tree and am grateful for Nature’s bounty.