When I pruned the apple trees earlier this month, I noticed tiny red buds just peeking through their protective scales at the end of the spurs. I selected three twigs from the pile of cuttings I had stacked for the bonfire, and brought them into the warmth of the house. I arranged them in a tall white vase and put them on my desk. They looked very sparse, Zen like—not dead but very dormant. I wondered if they might flower.

That was over two weeks ago. Gradually the buds opened. At first, just an expansion of the red, then a hint of green, which expanded into little round balls, tightly folded in their sepals.

Yesterday I noticed the petals coming through. On one twig five little buds had emerged, each on its separate stalk, reaching out maybe two centimetres from their origin in the woody twig. Three still held themselves tightly, creamy white petals overlapping snugly, nestled still in the grip of their sepals. But two are beginning to unfold into flowers, tiny cracks opening between the petals showing a hint, then a deeper flush of pink. I thought of it as an erotic pink, hinting at a growing intimacy as the flowers unfold their secrets.

Today all the buds have loosened further, the pink blush has disappeared. Two flowers have opened fully, each petal crisply white, spoon shaped, its surface faintly granular. A minute black speck crawls down the edge of one petal, emphasizing its sharp fragility. And in the middle of each flower, a cluster of yellow stamen reaches out to make contact with the world.

Outside the fog holds on into the afternoon, filling the valley. The chestnut trees down the garden show only as black skeletons, although earlier I saw their buds are bursting open too. I guess that in the garden buds on the apple trees still only show that little hint of red.