by Michelle Sutton

My Mom and I used to get coffee and donuts and park near an abandoned warehouse to admire this crabapple tree. Mature and healthy, with a beautiful branch structure, it seemed to me the most perfect expression of the crabapple.

A hip fracture in 2019 had changed Mom’s mobility, narrowing our options for exploring our world together. Since then, she uses a walker and gets tired more easily than she used to. We still go to art galleries and for walks, but sometimes getting a coffee and donut is the big excitement of the week.

The warehouse crabapple provided a feeling of coziness, privacy, and connectedness to nature not far from our city’s busiest road. From our parking spot, we could watch hilariously busy House Sparrow flocks; hear Carolina Wrens singing in their bell-clear tone and Eastern Bluebirds issue their beautiful, sad-warble of a call; and see Turkey Vultures, with their awesome wide wingspans, take off and soar gracefully. No one cared that we were there. The dense cloud of spring white blooms the crabapple produced harbored us, however briefly, against the storms of the pandemic, political extremism, and the relentless cascade of losses that aging was and is imposing on my mother and her peers.

The warehouse didn’t stay abandoned, and unfortunately, the new owners removed the crabapple and all other vegetation around the building. The tree was there, and then it wasn’t. Now there are very large and bright red No Trespassing signs, security cameras, and patrolling vehicles.

Why was it necessary to remove the crabapple? It did not pose a sight hazard. It was not impinging on building or sidewalk. Unless there’s some angle I am missing, it seems a senseless sacrifice. Glorious, irreplaceable crabapple tree: You gave Mom and me joy, and oasis. You are remembered, and you are lamented. 🌳