The New Three R’s

Yellow Russet Apple Tree at Enfield Shaker Museum

Dear Friends,

The large and venerable Golden Russet apple tree on the north side of the Museum’s herb and production gardens has seen better days. Several weeks ago, gravity did what gravity does, and the weathered tree’s trunk split.

After learning this news, Museum curator Michael O’Connor and I walked through the colorful and promising blooms of the herb garden to inspect the tree’s damage. Along the way Michael told me that this was the last tree of an orchard planted decades ago. I was saddened to learn that there had been an orchard, a lovely and presumably lasting gift by a devoted Museum member. Coming upon the tree, I instantly felt weighted with despair about the tree’s future. (And I am often accused of being too optimistic!) But Michael (who I would describe as an unrelenting realist) immediately outlined possible paths for the tree’s living future.

Everyone, it seems, had an idea of what was to be done to or with the tree. But our wonderful Garden Coordinator, Diana Kimball-Anderson, was already on the case. In consultation with expert orchardists in New England, she has devised a plan to try to save the tree.

And that is what we are going to do. If we can nurse the tree along to dormancy, in the spring we will be able to graft scions from this tree to new root stock which can then be planted on the site, thus allowing this tree to continue its presence on this historic site.

It’s been a long time since I had the time to write a letter to you, the Museum’s devoted members and friends. Back then, at the Covid-19 pandemic’s outset, I borrowed three C’s from Mount Lebanon Shaker Ernest Pick, who in 1894 counseled us to be cool, calm, and comfortable to survive the pandemic. Now, this apple tree of the russet variety instantly calls to my mind three Rs: repair, recovery, and resilience. Without us to repair it, to water it, and to give it sustenance, the tree cannot recover from its wound and again become strong and supple.

Without your support, the Museum could not have survived. With your help, provided in countless ways, Enfield Shaker Museum has come through the (hopefully) worst of the pandemic. As we shake away our own dormancy and repair and reconstitute our Museum community and all the communities in which we belong, I hope you know that you are the Museum’s strength. You have helped us stay resilient throughout the last extraordinary year-and-some. From the bottom of our hearts: thank you.

So we begin our recovery. The Museum’s legendary July 4th Pie Sale will happen (no one needs to see my kitchen right now). Beginning on July 6th, and thanks to the great work of Development Coordinator Kathryn Jerome and Education Coordinator Kyle Sandler, we’ll be hosting Members’ Appreciation Week, featuring tours and talks at the Museum and online. You may learn more here:  We hope to see you then, at the Museum or online, and in the months ahead.

Happy Fourth of July to us all!  Stay safe, stay cool, and be well.


Shirley Wajda
Executive Director