"Yes, they are! See, taste this one."
Two men were standing in the north lane of West Liberty. Next to them a woman and a young girl looked on with amusement.
Time for an intervention. I crossed the street and said yes, that was a red delicious apple tree, and nearby is a golden delicious. We shared a good laugh.
"What happened to this one, did someone set it on fire?" asked the man who had recognized the apple tree.
No, it's recovering from a fungus infection, I said, caressing the blackened wound on its trunk. It was treated by city arborist Jim Bower. The tree is crowded by crabapples and its apples this season are sparse compared to last year.
How soon will they be ripe? the woman asked. Pretty soon, I said, and you're welcome to come back and pick them. I pick as many as I can, but most of them just fall on the ground.
"The neighbors don't pick them?" apple man asked. "Free apples, and they just let them fall on the ground?"
And then they complain about the mess, I laughed, even the ones who throw cigarette butts all over their yard and sidewalk.
"I saw all those cigarette butts," the young girl said.
Looking up, the younger man said, "You could probably climb the tree to pick them." I said yes, I climbed it last summer. I made apple pies and applesauce.
Really! said apple man. He said he would return when the apples were ripe with his friend who likes to bake, a retired state police trooper. Is it okay for us to pick them?
Sure, it's public property, I said. Come back in about a month or so.
We said thank you's and good-bye's, and they went on their way. Hope to see them again soon in the Liberty Street apple orchard.