Thursday, August 11, 2011

I ate a Sugar Pear

Never Done: I ate a Sugar Pear

My first morning in Michiana was a little cool -- and by a little cool, I mean perfect. Not 90 degrees, and not 80 degrees, and not even 70. High 60s, still summer, sun shining, breeze coming off the lake -- heaven. Karen is a very good sewer (that looks nasty; I mean seamstress) who knew I wanted to make undies out of t-shirts and do other sewing projects while I'm here. So after a hot drink and a little magazine time (Vanity Fair's coverage of the phone tapping hoohah) I set out to start one of my projects. (I just realized though that if I write too much about it, I won't have what to write tomorrow, because that is a two-day project that once complete will be a Never Done. So suffice it to say that at some point in the morning, we got to go out to a fabric store.)

On the way home, Karen wanted to stop by her favorite fruit stand to buy white peaches so we could buy peaches for another Never Done project I'll also eventually be writing about. Driving through the Michigan City area -- in and out of Michigan and Indiana -- is alternately depressing and breathtaking. The commercialism is either depressed or empty: discount cigarettes, thrift shops, vacant strip malls. But the country side is verdant and lovely -- fields and trees and corn, and of course Lake Michigan. So we drove out to the fruit stand through fields and scattered farms, and finally pulled into someone's driveway. I could see where the fruit was, but it turned out to be just in a ragged garage. And in the ragged garage was a ragged cat and a small (at first glance, ragged) assortment of peaches, pears, apples, zucchini and one eggplant. And an elderly woman -- the farmer -- helping another customer.

Eventually it was our turn, and Karen started to ask what she wanted -- do you have any transparent apples left? The emphatic answer came back -- July! July 15! And she took a peach and split it in two, and offered it to us as if to say, we eat peaches in August, please no more talk about apples. We chose our peaches, and she told us about her good-for-nothing nephew who was supposed to come over and pick blackberries, but he went fishing instead. I pictured a 35-year-old man, but no -- the offender is merely 14. You see, I have rheumatoid arthritis, and she can't pick anymore. But here -- and she took a small green pear from a box labeled Sugar Pears and handed it to Karen to eat. Some people like them hard, and some people like them softer. And when she handed Karen a softer one, Karen gave me the rest of the hard.

Now, I always thought Sugar Pears were Seckels, but this wasn't a Seckel, Unless it's a variety I don't know about, and she does, in fact, specialize in heirloom varieties. What it was? The most delicious pear I have ever tasted in m life. I asked the woman about it, and she told me the tree is over 100 years old -- her most prolific tree. When she told me about her tree, I was filled with a sense of peace on her behalf. She might be old, her joints might hurt, her nephew might not come around as often as she wants, but she's on her land and she knows every one of her trees as well as she knows this one. Murdoch is tapping phones for tabloid fodder, the stock market is crashing, and London is burning, but it's August, and the white peaches and sugar pears are in.

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