I love the Chowan River. Five years ago, my parents built a small, comfortable cottage with a spectacular view of the River. The cottage is on “Perry’s Beach”, named for the landowners. I love Perry’s Beach…for several reasons. All our neighbors let their dogs roam freely, and the dogs are not annoying, they are just friendly. There is a massive body of water, which is soothing to the joints and soul. There is a pier/dock, where one can lay out, read, drink a glass of wine at dusk, and reconnect with friends and family. There is a long path to explore, good for thinking, and imagining you are in another world. And this past weekend, I found there is at least one more reason to love Perry’s Beach: A pear Tree.
I spotted the Tree a few walks ago, and knew I had to make friends with the owner. The pome fruits were just coming out, and I could not tell what type they were. But this last visit left me quite certain of the succulence of the pears ripening on the Tree’s branches. I really wanted to jump the ditch and hijack a few, if even from the orphan pears scattered on the ground. But alas, I decided to be a law-abiding citizen (is it illegal to take pears off the ground in someone’s yard?) and patiently wait. I knew an opportunity would arise.
On this past glorious Labor Day, when the humidity of eastern NC summer was subsiding, I walked down the path, past the pear Tree. I said a silent prayer that the pear Tree owner would be in his or her yard, tending the immaculate garden of which the Tree is a part. As I walked past, dreaming of the juice dripping from my mouth as I bit into a pear, the gravel crunching underneath my tennis shoes, I saw a slow movement out of the corner of my eye. An older man peaked underneath the vines which initially prevented our eyes from meeting. He smiled at me. I smiled back. (Thank You Jesus!)
He said, “Hey there! How are you?” and I said “Fine, how are you?” We bantered a few more lines and I said, “That’s a mighty nice pear Tree you got over there!” to which he replied, “Thank you…You want some?” Do I want some? DO I WANT SOME? OF COURSE I WANT SOME! And You Are So Kind To Offer Some! What A Man! What A Gardener!
I hopped over the ditch, ducked under the vines, and was at his beck and call within seconds. He shuffled over to an apple tree and cut me 2 apples (unexpectedly delicious!) and then made his way, slowly, to the Tree. He picked out four of the riper-looking pears, and used his pocket knife to gingerly trim them off the Tree. He found an old Lowe’s bag for me to use to tote them home. I ate the last one today. It was a bitter-sweet event. But mainly sweet.
story by Stephanie B. Jilcott
image via: kottke