Thursday, August 25, 2011

Crab Apple Tree

Throughout my summer day I pass by a tree filled with tasty ripe but tart pie cherries. It is simple to reach up, grab a couple and eat the tantalizing miniature orbs. Propelling the seeds across the lawn is a part of the enjoyment even though I'm reminded each time of their potential by the many seedlings in that area.

Some fifty years ago about the same time of the year, late August or early September I would repeat the same moves with some modifications. I would be on a tractor driving to and from the fields towing a wagon either filled with grain from the combine or silage for the silo. If the route took me pass the chokecherry bushes, I would load up on the berries that turned my mouth blue and my throat would, in a sense, choke. Hence, the name of the berry. Later in the season after emptying the silage from the wagon, I would detour under the crab apple tree and grab enough to keep me busy nibbling while driving to the field. They were so tart that they had no other use. But I loved the diversion.

Not many fruit trees survived the North Dakota winters, in fact my favorite crab apple tree had been joined by several plum and pie apple trees at their planting but stood essentially alone as I ate of it. Our Ziegler grandparents enjoyed adventuring into new territory with fruit as they had several apple trees and in the 50's a pear tree that actually produced pears. On the other side of the garden were patches of raspberries and strawberries that were the envy of my childhood. I don't know that the pear tree has survived these 50 years.

There are stories of man who wandered the West sowing apple seeds and who became known as Johnny Appleseed. His good fortune apparently didn't infect our part of North Dakota.