Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Dear { },

I don’t know who you are, or when you did it, but I wanted to thank you for planting that crabapple tree in the backyard. I wish I could tell how old it is without sawing it down to count the rings. 40 years, maybe? If you weren’t a young person when you planted it (and how many young people plant trees?) there’s a good chance you’re dead now. I’m sorry about that, but it may mean you can read this through the ether, and that would please me.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that tree is the most beautiful thing in the neighborhood. It blooms every other year, as you probably know, sometime around May 20th. It’s in full glory right now, every square inch covered with white and yellow flowers. When I come home I pull into the driveway and sit in the car staring at it. Then I get out and bury my face in the blossoms, sucking in the intoxicating, sweet smell. I cut off a few spangled branches and put them in a vase in the kitchen (along with some lilacs—did you plant those, too?) and the scent drifts through the house.

The tree got me thinking about beauty and questions of less and more. Two of these trees together would not be twice as lovely. Fifty together might bore the eye. Yet this one by itself stuns every passerby. On the other hand, I estimated this one tree may have 50,000 or more flowers. Am I missing the beauty of the individual flower, due to their numbers? Probably. This spring, before they opened, I couldn’t even remember if they were going to have four or five petals (they have five).

I haven’t pruned the tree since I bought the house, and feel I’m letting you down a little there. Frankly, I prefer things a little wild, and normally am not inclined to tame or restrain natural objects. But I know the tree needs it, so I promise I’ll figure out how to do it sometime soon.

Anyway, thank you again for your foresight, which has brought me a lot of happiness. Someday I’ll plant a tree, somewhere, to continue the favor.

Best wishes,



Anonymous Turbomom said...

This is a beautiful letter. I hope someone writes one like this to me in 100 years or so for the crabapple I planted in front of our house 35 years ago. Though it isn't fragrant it is always beautiful.

5/27/06, 5:07 PM  

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