Doing The Crabapple Tango

Don’t worry, it’s safe to read this post – the Crabapple Tango is nothing like the Green Apple Two-Step. I won’t even mention diarrhea. (Okay, technically I just did, but that’s all for this post.)

Most people have probably never heard of the Crabapple Tango, but anyone with a fruit tree knows what I’m talking about.

First you need a fruit-laden tree and a stepladder. Ideally, the tree will have been pruned by an irresponsible orangutan with the express intention of creating an impenetrable mat of tough branches garnished with millions of spiky twigs.

Like all fine dance performances, proper preparation begins months in advance. Throughout the summer the tree should be repeatedly drenched with road dust, pollen, tiny black bugs with an affinity for human mucous membranes, and that particular brand of sticky dirt that’s peculiar to apple trees.

The crabapples must be at that precise pinnacle of ripeness whereby half of them rain down upon the performer’s head at the slightest disturbance of the branches, but the rest are so firmly attached that it’s necessary to twist and yank them loose. This sets up the proper blend of tension/release in the dance.

As always, stage layout is critical. The ground beneath the tree should never be flat or level. And the tree should be jammed in the inside corner of a five-foot tall fence, making it impossible to safely access it from any angle.

Ideally, the Crabapple Tango should be performed on a windy day in bright sun. This adds to the entertainment value while the audience waits to see whether the performer will be thrown bodily from the tree by wind-tossed limbs or merely blinded by looking directly into the sun while reaching for the topmost branches.

Once all is prepared, it’s time to introduce the star of the performance.


Yes, the crabapples were ripe this weekend, so that was my cue to drag out our stepladder and attempt to inflict grievous injury upon myself. Fortunately I failed, but anyone watching would have given me points for trying.

I had the requisite sun and wind, and after picking everything I could reach from the ground I took to the ladder to reach the apples twelve feet up.

Having suffered abrasions to both epidermis and equanimity while contorting myself through the web of branches, I poised precariously on the second-from-the-top step. With one thick branch pressing into my stomach and another crushing my kidneys, I made a 90-degree pivot, locking myself between the branches… just as the wind gusted.

Trees move in the wind. A lot. And their branches don’t move as a unit. More like scissors, actually.

Balanced on one foot on the ladder, I performed my most emotive tango yet, arching and dipping and twisting. I managed to escape, but it was a near thing.

And the whole time I was thinking, “I don’t need all these crabapples. I don’t even want all these crabapples.” But I was powerless to stop the dance, possibly because I was brought up to never waste food, or maybe just because I’m an idiot.

But I’ve got almost four bushels of crabapples to show for it.

Anybody got some new crabapple recipes? I’ve got jelly, jam, applesauce, apple butter, cider, spiced crabapples, cake, muffins, and pie…

* * *

P.S. I was the irresponsible orangutan who pruned the tree. Next year I’m going to wait until the apples are ready and then just go up the tree with my saw to do my pruning and picking all in one efficient act. Juggling a sharp object on an unstable ladder… what could possibly go wrong?

27 thoughts on “Doing The Crabapple Tango

  1. Pingback: The Crabapple Dirge | Diane Henders

  2. We used to go through the same process with our cherry trees. Fortunately, the blue jays and crows have discovered them, too, and pick the trees clean before we have a chance to even notice the fruit. I don’t care. Those cherries are terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad you survived. The lack of a video is sad, though.
    The problem with fruit trees is that they insist on bearing…fruit. Which of course must NEVER go to waste. Our neighbour in Regina pruned her apple tree so “a large bird could fly through it”. Her husband and I suggested they didn’t mean a 747. Apple yield tripled so …


    • Crabapple trees are vindictive things. According to gardeners’ wisdom, a fruit tree is supposed to bear a heavy crop one year, then take a break with some sparser crops for a couple years until it saves up its strength for another big one. My crabapple tree has apparently never heard of that. And now I’m afraid to prune it after hearing what happened to your neighbor. All this because I planted the tiny twig a decade ago thinking, “Won’t it be nice to have a few crabapples for fresh eating.”

      On the up side, my caramel crabapple upside-down cake turned out absolutely delicious.

      Four dozen crabapples down; a few thousand to go…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wonder if the crabapples I remember from a friend’s house in my youth are the same as you have. The crabapples from his tree were quite small. Even when fully ripe and falling on the ground, they were never much more than an inch in diameter. And BITTER? Holey cows, those things would pucker you up enough to cave your face in!

        The only use I remember for the ones from his yard was just gathering them up and throwing them at each other. 🙂

        Cobbler? Pies? Cakes? It would take five hundred of the things for a cobbler and twenty pounds of sugar just to make them edible. Unless yours are a LOT different from those, I would think my time would be better spent doing something else.

        You know, something more constructive. Like spray painting graffiti on water towers. Or inventing a good hydroelectric mothball. Something. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. never fail to amuse me and your readers with your escapade. Bet you would make a trip to the store just as fun! 😛
    On an important side note, am glad you are okay after those stunts…I mean after that beautiful dance 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I also have a crabapple tree, but because it’s growing about 1000 feet away from a former industrial waste dumping facility, I don’t harvest the apples (though I did bite into one of the crabapples last year, before I found out I’m living next to a government Superfund cleanup site). So I get to vicariously tango via your blog post. 😉


  6. We also had a crabapple tree at our house in Calgary. Every year Hubby harvested the fruit doing the Tango in the tree. This choreography was made even more complicated when after first reaching up for some crabapples on the high branches and then bringing his arm down squashing a wasp in his arm pit. The painful sting caused a flurry of flailing arms accompanied by loud expletives. The Chateauneuf de Bowness lovely crabapple wine and champagne made it all worth while. Any leftover fallen fruit was greedily inhaled by our 2 Labrador Retrievers, who later turned the air green. There’s nothing more foul than Labrador farts!


    • Oh, OUCH!!! (I feel kinda bad for laughing, but I’m laughing just the same.) I’m glad I didn’t get stung – I’d have fallen out of the tree and killed myself. Which, come to think of it, might be better than suffering Labrador farts…


  7. I can totally relate, but on a different type of project. It involved salvaging the twisted wreckage of a huge TV translator tower that had been mangled by a tornado years ago. We lived in a small rural community. I owned the only winch truck in the county, plus I had the requisite equipment to do the job–a cutting torch. We’re talking hi-tech here.

    The job entailed me hanging from the hook while my buddy drove the truck around and spotted me over the particular piece of wreckage so I could torch it apart while not actually being on the wreckage when it fell. We actually tried the climbing-up-the-wreckage-with-a-cutting-torch method first, of course. The results were, uh, well, let’s just call the results disappointing and let it go at that, shall we?

    I’m glad we both survived more or less unscathed. 🙂


  8. Where is a neighbor to videotape and upload to You Tube when you need one?… Now THAT would have been a treat to see. But I’m glad you weren’t hurt during your impressive apple foraging. I wouldn’t mind a little crabapple cobbler a la mode, if you please. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s another thing – since I spend most of my time sitting indoors in front of my computer, all the neighbours drop by to chat while I’m out defying death. I haven’t decided whether they’re just being friendly or they have ulterior motives of the “Let’s watch the train wreck” variety.

      And I truly wish I could send out goodies to all my friends in the blogosphere. I love to bake and feed people, but four bushels of apples goes a long way when there’s only Hubby and me… and he doesn’t eat crabapples…


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.