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  • It could be said that the tree commanded the whole yard because it sat right square in the middle of it. Sure, there were other trees and things in the yard; an avocado tree, a shed and a huge pine tree with a built-in seating area around the base. The tree, the crabapple tree was the only tree open to the sky on all sides, unimpeded with a clear canopy. Room around the tree to run and a lawn that would have been green if the water hadn’t beaded up and dried on top like the Sahara desert. The lawn was neither here nor there in the yard, the tree was omnipotent. Whether in Spring covered with little pink flowers or fruiting, mostly year round, the tree marked time, seasons, birthdays, anniversaries, christening, grandchildren, dogs, cats, bee’s and birds, and not necessarily in that order. She was a glorious tree and the focal point of the yard, which at times, can be a bit of a burden. But don’t take my word for, just listen to the tree.

    They say “if only these walls could talk, oh what stories they would tell.” Well, I’m a talking tree and these branches have heard quite a few tales. Pirates fighting a brigade against her majesties fleet, wood nymphs and fairies, all upon these branches. It can be a bit trying at times, all the wiggling and scrapping that goes on, but all in all, I have to say is that I like the little people. They have a way about them of finding the nicest little niche to balance their bottoms and rest their feet. Sometimes they actually feel as one with me, the way they lean back and look up into the clouds under the same sky I spread my branches to. It’s almost as if time stands still for them.

    The reality is that there is a whole lot of growing going on all the time. Some of the small ones, not tall enough to climb onto my branches always start by stretching to grow. They jump and jump until the day comes and they grab hold, swinging themselves up on my branches, and a whole new world opens for them. Pretty soon, they’ll forget about my small branches, but while they’re here, oh my, the stories they tell. Apples on my branches are small and plentiful. With the child on my branches, reaching the most perfectly ripe fruit is never an issue. They scamper to the ends of my limbs and somehow always maintain their balance. They unload the fruit laden branches and it is like lifting a load from my arms. My leaves like to flutter a bit and get all showy when the fruit is bare.

    I’ve seen families come, grow and go and still I stand, a little worse for wear and weather, my tart sweet crisp fruit lingers on the edge of the branches of a young child’s memory.

    Families move away and one child in particular, remembers the taste and tart crisp apples, the days spent sitting on the trees branches and searches but cannot find the fruit. Until one day, as an older woman, she picks up a little bag of apples at a Gelson’s supermarket. She can hardly believe her eyes. They look like the same fruit, but the apples were more yellow, red and orange, yet these look similar. She buys them and takes them home and yes, it is the same taste. She’d given up on finding those apples. Most crabapples she’s bought in the past taste like mush, but these crimson gold apples are perfection. Crisp, sweet and tart and smaller than an apricot. She purchases them through two growing seasons and then the day comes and the supermarket no longer stocks them.

    She decides she must find a tree. No local nursery carries the variety so she goes online and found a nursery. The owner of the Greenmantle Nursery, had found an abandoned crabapple orchard and many of the trees had met their demise. While the trees had been sorely neglected, there were a number of trees, a handful, still bearing fruit. From these trees, he grafted a new forest of crabapple trees. So delighted by her find, the woman immediately ordered four saplings. The first year she kept them in pots, the second year she placed them in the ground, the third year she was rewarded with a glorious apple that a jay bird just had to have a bite of. With any luck maybe next year she’ll have more than two apples and someday another child will find the wonder and share laughter in the trees branches.

    * * * * *

    P.S.: Thus dispelling the myth that sitting in a crabapple tree makes you crabby.

    * * * * *
    Greenmantle Nursery
    3010 Ettersburg Road
    Garberville, CA 95542
    (707) 986-7504
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