the old pear tree stands

the old pear tree stands in opposition to all our ideas of what growing food must look like. all by itself, it feeds the people who live here more than they could ever eat, year after year.

its abundance affirms community, exchange, as we send pears out into the hands of others. there are so many helping hands to thank.

being a fleeting summer pear, not a winter storing pear, it ripens quickly, its only demand is that we act now. as the pears come in, hefting crates, boxes, market baskets, bags and finally anything you can lay your hands on to carry them, they cover every surface. this year there were so many we couldn’t photograph them all at once and hurried to preserve them.

pear butter, pear jelly, pear cheese, pear leather, pear wine, pear brandy, pear vinegar, pear chutney. bottled pears, dried pears. pears into cakes, over porridge, on pancakes, toast. pear on the side, pear as a snack. and what e l s e can we make with pears? intense creativity is an appropriate response.

there’s no need to extract, to exploit. this tree needs almost nothing at all, a pruning, some mulch. with roots growing so deeply in relationship to the orchard, decades of microbial communities making more life, well. we need only be mindful not to interfere, to be good partners with this robust being. we need only give thanks.

it’s a way of being so counter to the dominant vision of industrial extraction which takes too much and never gives back. yet we could accept the perennially kind offerings, do the work of planting more trees, give this future to our children. it’s the best sort of work there is. the trees want us to do it. everyone thrives.

it’s no coincidence that we draw, paint, print, photograph trees. that planting a tree feels like an ancient ritual. that propagating new trees is a pleasure that, once experienced, is anticipated like a child longs for a birthday. in dormancy we make new life. to watch a tree grow is as much meaning as i ever required.

we can shift our vision of what is and what can be. then we can see clearly how we might live in ways that make more life.