Apricot trees typically mark the first sign of spring in an orchard. It is the first tree to bloom or freeze, if the month of May dips into the low 20’s or 30’s.
This particular tree, if it gets past the frost, is a mass of beautiful bloom. Unfortunately, on my Mother’s Day visit home, the buds were just a few days away from opening.
Looking back, the Lipp family came from Defiance, Ohio in 1904 to farm on the hills just east of Crystal Lake and the villages of Beulah and Benzonia. My cousin Ruth tells me that that the farm had an established orchard of cherries and apples when the Lipps purchased the property. The views from atop the hill were incredible. They could easily see the length of Crystal Lake to the west and the beautiful hills surrounding it, suggesting an Alpine vista. Both husband and wife were 1st generation American citizens. They were born in Ohio after their respective parents immigrated from Switzerland and Germany to settle and farm in northwest Ohio. Then, when John Jacob Lipp and wife Ada were in their 80’s they sold their farm to their son-in-law, Wright Stone, my grandfather. Wright, owned the farm just below them. In fact that is how my grandparents met. My Aunt Harriet told me that Grandma Stone (Florence Lipp Stone) was sent down the hill with some food for the young gentleman who had recently purchased the Narrow Gauge Farm. He was fresh out of college from UW-Madison in which he studied horticulture. She, on the other hand, had just graduated from high school. The rest is history, they met, they courted, and they married. The orchard continued into the 1960’s and then our family transformed it into a Christmas tree plantation, and finally into Pinecroft Golf Plantation. The land remains preserved in its beauty and open space, with one of the best views in the county of Crystal Lake.
I am so glad the apricot tree remains, although somewhat hidden and nestled into a stand of pine. It is a landmark of our family’s beginnings and growth in Benzie County at the turn of the century over 100 years ago.