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.

 

Originally published on Periphery.

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