Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Gift of a Tenacious Pear

The tree is older than the house and twice as tall.
The house is a hundred years old.

It's a remnant. A towering reminder of the orchards that covered our neighborhood before working-class Norwegians built sturdy, yet modest houses.

In the spring it's a three-story herald of warmer days to come. Magnificent in its blanket of tiny pinkish-white blossoms. Those warm days come and the tiny petals flutter down like sweet-scented snow, leaving a scene like the day after a wedding in our back yard.

When the pears start to appear, it means it's almost time to go back to school and the light in the afternoons will  have a bit more of an edge.

By the time the pencils are sharpened and the lunch boxes are filled, the pears will be ready. Ripe and voluptuous with their broad hips and dainty shoulders.

Don't let them fool you, though. These ladies are tough. Their skin is thick, their flesh is firm and dense, they are coaxed to tenderness by only the most ardent flames, tempered with some spice and the dark and yielding sweetness of brown sugar. They are not for the faint of heart.

They wait patiently on their boughs for little climbing legs to chase them, tiny hands to grab them and bring them in. But with the first winds of autumn, they who haven't filled their dance cards come raining down with heavy, impatient thuds only to be snatched up by squirrels and raccoons bedding down for the winter.

And then my tree is bare again.

Except for this year. Except for one tenacious pear.

It hangs right in front of my kitchen window. It has kept me company all these many months. I watch it every day as I go about my business. It is one of hundreds this season - thousands in the life of the tree - but this one caught my eye. I keep tabs on it. It keeps tabs on me.

It is small. Just larger than a baby's fist. It has steadfastly refused to join its sweeter, juicier sisters in developing. I have watched it and cheered. I am a quiet collector of the small, the odd, the different.
It, by virtue of its smaller size, has avoided the rain, the wind. It has clung to its bough in defiance of squirrels, of season, of gravity.

It hangs there: tough and hard and small. It is my champion.
It has taken the things that make it different and used them as tools of survival.
It is not conventionally pretty. Its skin is a little darker, a little speckled; it's too narrow for any traditional use. But it is beautiful in its strength, its courage, its tenacity.

They're predicting a hard winter this year.
But that's all right.
I've got my talisman. My tenacious pear.


  1. That was beautiful! I enjoy your writing so so much.

  2. How lovely! I hope that pear hangs on...I feel as though I could see it in front of me as I read your description of it:)

  3. I, too, am a fan of the small, odd, and different. I am rooting for your pear. I hope it keeps, keeping on. :-)

  4. Pears--and their trees--are one of life's many underappreciated treasures. It's always nice to find others who take extraordinary notice of ordinary things and even better when they can bring such life to them with their words.

  5. I guess if I can have a friendship with a praying mantis, there's nothing stopping you have being buddies with a pear. (But did you ever talk to the pear?)

  6. "Ripe and voluptuous, with their broad hips and dainty shoulders..." I will never think of pears in the same light again. What a sweet piece of writing. Thanks for a new perspective on an old friend. btw, my word was uspeak, and I think that says it all.

  7. My wordveri this morning was 'unying', which would be a synonym for 'yang' or possibly the act of using an onion, as in: "... could you unying the soup for me, please?"

  8. Suddenly, I want to go check out our pear tree and see how it's hanging in there.

    Your writing dang near brings me to tears. For realz.

  9. When we moved to our small farm 3 years ago, everything was dead. It was a 'downturn of economical events' that brought us here. No one had loved this place in some time. The place was bleak and so were the times. But I had dreams. And as I tried to identify the leafless trees, I thought one little stick, with a few dead branches, might just be a pear tree. My husband laughed. He wondered how I could tell. I told him I could tell with my rose colored glasses on.

    One day, months later, he brought me excitedly to the front, and on this single branch, with a few withered blossoms.....was a pear. One pear. It is the only pear that has ever appeared on that tree, though it's blossomed now, a few seasons. Say what you will, but I believe in signs.

    Love your beautiful lovesong to your pear. Your writing is gorgeous, (and your commenters are great fun, too!)

  10. Thank you for such kind words, everyone! And thank you for rooting for my pear. It's the little things...


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