A Clara boom tree is an apple tree. It is a smallish tree as apple trees go and lives and grows and produces small, green, tasty, sweetish apples. One lives on the monastery grounds. Now I do not think we have this variety in the States. One of the sisters here, originally from Switzerland, always went to her grandmother’s in the mountains as a child and ate Clara apples from her grandmother’s tree so naturally when asked what she would like as a gift, the answer was a Clara boom tree. So now this tree, many years later is mature and hearty and serving up delicious apples to both the sisters and the birds! Now another important and appealing aspect of this apple tree is that it is one of the first to give fruit. This is late July …hardly autumn here..the usual time for apples in Belgium. Now how this apple got its name I do not know but it is named for St Clara. This might have been an invention of the grandmother as no variety of apple has that name! I researched, hunting for the Clara apple… no luck. But I did discover that there are 6000 varieties of apples in Switzerland and that it is the most popular fruit consumed there and that most of the traditional varieties are lost or cut down. Old varieties came from all over the Middle and Far East with the traders who came to Switzerland. Now a research station is actually making this a project called ‘In with the old’, finding and cataloguing old varieties of apple trees. Probably the tree in this sister’s grandmother’s backyard in Switzerland and now its granddaughter in the Beguinnage in Belgium is no doubt some uncatalogued variety…but it does taste good!
I was given the tour of the tree which is presently laden with green apples. We will have to hurry as the birds have also been dining on the Clara apples. This morning though there were two Clara apples on our table to be shared, at her place and mine. She looks eagerly forward to the Clara apples, a bright twinkle in her eye, a reminder of childhood and the goodness of God.