Yes, it is that time of year again. The tree that was festooned in blossom in early Spring and provided shade all summer, is now ready to let go its fruit.
This would be good under normal circumstances. The tree is rooted just yards from the back door and the pears it produces are invariably juicy and sweet. There are far too many for us to use ourselves so we give lots away.
We have already handed out bags to hairdresser, daughters and work colleagues…other years have seen us putting boxes of pears outside the barn , on the roadside, for passers by to collect.
This last ploy has always been successful. Many people passing on foot, return with their cars to load a box or two into their boots.
Flossie, a lover of apples, rubber balls, bits of string and anything edible or not, loves pears too. Hence, when the initial few fall, she is first to gobble them. It is up to me to gather the pears before she gets to them. This is not the easiest of tasks.
I have to get ever more observant and compete with Flossie who can hear a pear fall from the other end of the garden. As she stands, begging to go outside, I have to find my boots and squeeze past her substantial frame. In rain or shine, bag in hand, I wander around the tree picking up any pear I may see. I check further afield and only when I am satisfied that I have them all, will I let her out.
At first there are just a few on the ground. Looking up, I can see hundreds dangling in the leaves. One strong wind and they’ll be down. I place the first few in my bag and stow them out of Flossie’s reach. Flossie is eager to get outside and of course, she will find the pear that I missed, the one that rolled into the shrubbery unseen. Ecstatic with her find, she pelts off down the garden to munch on it. The odd pear in her diet, would not be a problem of course. It is the number she eats that turn her into a bloated ball of fluff.
Every morning, I am out there, hunting for pears while Floss and Charlie stare at me from within. One morning, I collected 65 in one fell swoop, the next morning, 97. Since then, there has been a steady stream of fruit which now languishes in bags and boxes and my washing basket (all I had to hand).
Her favourite time is after dark when she can find all those pears I just cannot see. Replete, bloated and obviously in pain, she lies there panting at the end of the day and invariably, will have an accident on the kitchen floor in the night.
Every year, we have tried to forestall this situation by collecting the pears as they fall. Dave has designed weird and wonderful contraptions, mostly involving netting stretched beneath the tree, but all failed. One year, a branch, laden with fruit, grew too heavy and broke. The resulting hoard was easy to collect and resulted in several boxes set at the roadside for passers-by. If only we could catch all pears so easily!
Alas, our good intentions are thwarted, year after year.
The time has come I am afraid to take action. The pear tree has to go. Sad as we are to chop it down, it is really in the wrong place, so close to the house and in the path of our planned extension. These past weeks of pear hunting have been a pain. Flossie, who had trimmed down so nicely after last year’s feast (yes, it is that bad) is looking bloated and unhealthy again.
So, We’re going on a Pear Hunt one last time…we’re not scared…
*”We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” is a children’s book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, a favourite with my children and now my grandchildren.