The weather was crisp and the trees were aflame with autumn glory.
Let me back up and tell you about the pear tree.
You've heard the Christmas carol, right? The one with the partridge and the pear tree?
Well, when we moved into the house back in 1980, there was a wonderful older woman living next door who knew a truly astonishing amount about the birds and plants of the area, as well as wood and garden lore. I'm getting to the pears.
One year, she received a partridge and pear tree themed Christmas card. It had an actual pear seed in it. She planted it. Given that she seems to be able to make anything grow, it grew.
When it was 4 feet tall, she gave it to my mom, and my mom asked if I would like to plant it. I did.
That's it, the 30 some foot (10 meter) tall tree that my Dad is in front of.
And it's covered with pears. I didn't think until now to be mildly surprised that it is actually a pear tree since the card people could have stuck an apple seed (easier to get and looks the same) in there with none being the wiser.
But here's the thing: nobody grows pear trees from seed, because they are open pollinated. They are all grafted so that you can select the exact kind of pear you want.
This tree happens to grow pears that are small, weirdly shaped, scabby looking, and hard as rocks. They never soften, even with freezing, and they seem to be too hard for even the wildlife.
For a long time, we thought they were useless. Until my dad thought to juice one and discovered they are extremely sweet. Then I cooked some and found that they are soft and delicious when cooked!
Well that changes things! We shook lower branches, grabbed fruit with cultivators, and finally beat the branches with poles and hooks as far up as we could reach. My dad figured out how to strap together pieces of molding and a hand cultivator to get some of the high up pears. It's a wonder none of us got beaned by a pear, but it was a lot of fun!
We've gotten 3 bushels of pears off the tree so far, and have made pear butter and pear sauce. It's the first I've made that doesn't need added sugar.
|Dad, hatching a plan to get more pears|
I thought the pears were bad because they were so hard, but it's that hardness which makes them impervious to insects and allows them to keep all winter without going bad.
I'm sure there's a lesson in there about raising kids.
Still, I'm kind of glad that card didn't come with an egg...