Winter Garden

My father is a fan of crab apple trees and has dozens of different varieties in his garden. The English word ‘crab apple’ doesn’t do them justice. They are more aptly named ‘Zierapfel’ (decorative apple) in the German language. Their fruit is too sour or bitter to eat. Crab apples are smaller than normal apples, some are of the size of berries.

I’ve never understood my father’s devotion to them until last winter when we were visiting him for Christmas. I went to inspect the garden which was a miserly, dripping mess of black sludge and decomposition, overshadowed by the tall, dark forest across the road.

The only respite came from a bunch of small roses that had magically survived the frost and snow—and the crab apples. There were lots of them in bright clusters, red or yellow, little dots of happiness, all over the garden.