Apples and Peaches and Pears, Oh My!

I don’t get this harvest thing. The picking and plucking, heaving and hauling, sorting and stowing to me seem hardly worth the reward—a bunch of garage-consuming, sickly sweet-smelling produce bent on wearing out its welcome faster than I can swat fruit flies.

Naturally, the overzealous-fruit-grower-guy in my life views the whole process, from buds to bushels, in an entirely different light. Throughout each season, he lovingly ogles his babies—one each of the apple, peach and pear varieties that inhabit our lawn. Countless hours are spent admiring their beauty and resilience, stroking their green leafiness and for all I know, whispering sweet-nothings into their ear-like blossoms which, strangely, seem eager to soak up his praise and words of encouragement. The man talks to trees, for crying out loud! He claims he’s simply “monitoring their growth and development.”

“Okay, Captain Fruitage. Mr. Happy Harvester. If you say so. Just get on with your foolishness and quit trying to save me from a life filled with apathy toward the wonderment of reaping that which we sow—namely, the apples and peaches and pears, oh my! You’re obsessed. Positively obsessed. And you seem to grow even more fanatical with eachpassing year. Ugh.”

When all this harvest schmarvest hoo-ha began eight years ago, I should have recognized the telltale signs of dysfunction right then and there. Painstakingly, this Doctor Dolittle of fruit trees fashioned two-by-fours into props, so that branches heavy with ripening fruit wouldn’t snap. At first glance, this actually makes a lot of sense and even smacks of ethical treatment for trees (Yea!). But when the casual observer notes just HOW OFTEN he checks and rechecks and checks yet again the positioning of said props, he or she might think the behavior a bit odd.

“It’s not as if mischief-minded grasshoppers or crickets are messing with your silly little sticks of wood, you foolish, foolish man. Stop with the paranoia already.”

Over time, this champion of growing and gathering sidled into the role of Extreme Protector, going above and beyond the call of duty. One year he attempted to coat practically every square inch of the trees in question—spritzing and spraying some magical, stench-ridden formula guaranteed to nix bugs, blight and all things fungal. (It doubled as cologne). He also fertilized, pruned and prayed to the hilt. But mostly, he cursed the shameless bears and deer for daring to pilfer his precious fruit. Blasted scavengers.

More recently though, I’ve noted that the fervor with which Captain Fruitage approaches nearly every harvest-related conversation has exceeded the bounds of tolerability. In fact, it has led him (oh so erroneously) to believe that I, too, should possess a deranged level of enthusiasm for said topic. What am I—a squirrel?! I think not.

Granted, I do enjoy a luscious piece of fruit now and then—plucked straight from the tree or vine, its juices still warm from the sun. But why the insistence upon converting me to “his kind”? Maybe he feels that without a fruit fixation, I am somehow incomplete or deprived. Or maybe he just thinks I’m lazy. But I’m not lazy. Really, I’m not. Just disinterested. Period.

Much to my chagrin, however, he recently pried me away from live coverage of the U.S. Open one afternoon (Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr!) and half dragged me to a spot in the lawn where I guessed that I was supposed to ooooooh and ahhhhhh or rejoice or something upon seeing the bountiful harvest—hanging there in all its succulent glory. What happened next involved a ladder crushing my foot, branches whacking my face, fruit thumping me about the head and shoulders and great masses of bugs that seemed intent upon flying up my nose and into my eyes. It hardly seemed worth all the grief.

And for my efforts under the trees, I was granted the opportunity to separate the worm-eaten and the non-worm-eaten varieties. Joy. I also got to lug those unwieldy props (grumble grumble) and boxes brimming with fruit all the way to the garage—where hordes of them are still parked.

I just don’t get this harvest thing.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2005 Melinda L. Wentzel

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