"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
 
Krabappel Blooms and Cherry Blossoms

Krabappel Blooms and Cherry Blossoms

From The Quotable Krabappel: 20 Great Lines from Bart’s Beleaguered Teacher (from The Simpsons):

“[The] only way to survive a deadly blaze is…. Oh, heck. Life’s too short for fire safety! Let’s go out and pick wildflowers!”

From The Reason For Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives by Stephen Buchmann:

“American gardens have been greatly enriched by ancient and modern Chinese horticulture. The Chinese were the first to import and develop fruit trees (cherries, pears, peaches, and plums) from Persia (now Iran) or other Mediterranean countries. These trees were imported by caravans along the famous Silk Road, extending four thousand miles from China to the Mediterranean, especially during the Han Dynasty (206 BC — AD 220). The Chinese turned these fruit and timber trees, once used to make furniture, into blossoming ornamentals….

“We have also benefited from the Chinese love of early-flowering native trees and shrubs…. It’s the Chinese who gave the world the moutan, or tree peony, flowering crab apple, daylily, camellia, and daphne as domesticated plants.”


I think I watched The Simpsons for a decade before it dawned on me that the last name of Bart Simpson’s teacher — Edna Krabappel (pronounced “kruh-bopple”) — was a play on the word “crabapple” (or “crab apple” if you prefer). Once I realized it, though, “krabappel” got stuck in my head and I could no longer refer to the tree by its proper name. “Krabappel trees”, “krabappel blossoms”, inedible krabappel apples (!!) — these terms have filled in for “crabapple” ever since. My browser just tried to set me straight, though, by actually auto-correcting “krabappel” to “crabapple” — wtf! — an obvious internet conspiracy to mess with my brain. The conspiracy has failed: the first gallery below features a series of krabappel flowers I found poking their way into spring, on a recent Oakland Cemetery gardens photo-shoot.

Like many of the residents of fictional Springfield, characters like Mrs. Krabappel — who passed away in 2013 — achieve iconic status because they’re so relatable, as reflections of real people we’ve known, or, as often, a composite blend of real people that the character represents. Mrs. Krabappel reminded me of at least three teachers I had growing up: one of unlimited energy with a boisterous laugh who taught me to love reading; one who was notorious for tossing blackboard erasers at inattentive students and eating bananas while lecturing the class; and one whose infamy matched Krabappel’s in her tendency to drink too much, drape herself over barstools at a local dive bar, and live in blissful oblivion of the reputation she had earned. Lessons learned: read as many books as you can (and laugh a lot); paying attention matters (and bananas are good for you); and live as if it doesn’t matter what people think of you (because it doesn’t).

Best of luck now referring to krabappel trees, krabappel blossoms, and krabappel fruit by their proper name, should you come across some in real life. 🙂



While I was working on post-processing the photos below, I thought they, too, were krabappel blossoms. But then I noticed that the colors didn’t seem to match, nor did the structure of the opening flowers. PlantNet to the rescue: it identified these as cherry blossoms, with a slim possibility that they’re almond tree blossoms instead. They’re definitely not krabappels.


Thanks for reading and taking a look!

8 Comments

  1. A great album, Dale! Really lovely.
    I’ve only seen a couple episodes of “The Simpsons” but have pretty vivid memories of my teachers, a lot of them did a great job and were pretty entertaining, too. And a few that were not memorable and I’m sure will become a grayish composite over time. The ones I liked included a couple of wonderful history enthusiasts, whose desk was filled with interesting props for his lectures, including rusty chains and a hatchet (it’s a long story). Another loved vintage clothing, and his favorite suit was used for the previous owner’s viewing at the funeral parlor. But he really knew how to bring history to life.

    1. Dale

      Thank you!

      I haven’t kept up with The Simpsons that much in the past ten years or so; after I quit cable and started using streaming services, I stopped watching most network broadcasts. Every now and then I think about bingeing the whole thing, but with 700 episodes (so far!!) that would probably take me a couple of years!

      I tend to remember certain teachers more for their quirky personalities than for what they taught me (hmmmmm…), and now you’ve put an image in my head that my banana-eating, eraser-throwing teacher might have had a hatchet in her desk! Could make a good character in a short story, eh?

      Thanks for the comment!

    1. Dale

      hahaha! and I’m pretty sure I know which two you figured out. The third was sixth grade, last name started with “La” … you may have had someone else for that grade.

      🙂

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