chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Tag Archives: crabapple

September’s labor…

the crabapple in January and April

We roll around through the seasons of northwest light, mornings reclaimed by darkness, evenings cinched down minute by minute, consumed by night.

I prune trees, a seasonal obsession. Each tree is a complex hairdo, a living art project. Squinting from across the yard, I target the wood that will be cut, but standing by the tree a moment later, I can no longer tell whether it’s this branch or that one, so I go back, memorize the pattern, approach again. When I find the best angle to reach a branch, the sun glares from directly behind it, so I recalculate, walk in circles craning upward.

Apologizing for my intrusion, I climb among the lichened branches of the crab apple, hair snagged and dragged from under my scarf. I’m cautious, aware of the hazards — the ladder, the saw, the trajectory of a falling branch. Nearby, a wasp tests the purple leaves but doesn’t alight. Spiders set their nets, grab at my clothes, parade across the top of my sunglasses. Sawdust rains onto their webs.

Loppers, clippers, saw, then wrestle the cut branches to the ground; they want to stay aloft. Down the ladder, up, down, walk away, turn, measure, chop twigs into the green-waste bin, circle, calculate, picture the tree naked. Up the ladder, down. The adjacent apple tree, desperate for pruning, calls to me. I don’t listen.

Parsing the sentences of branches, I edit the tree.


Prairie Fire crabappleAfter the shakedown — high wind, torrential rain — the maple trees on the back slope are mostly bare and the squirrel highway is back in view. For half the year, there’s just a shimmy and bounce as they zip along the branches from tree to tree. But now, in the frosty morning sunshine, the squirrels dash and dart, pause to flick their tails and bark their warning, then scramble and soar into the dense cover of the cedar or Doug fir.

A moment later, a squirrel appears on the fence and makes a quick jump to the pecan tree and then the crabapple. There, in a wintry ruff of fur and in the company of fluffed-up chickadees and juncos, it sits on its haunches and consumes the bitter, hard, cranberry-sized fruits that decorate the tree for the season.