When we bought our new house it had a rather large garden with several trees, among which a pear tree. The pear turned out to be a Conference, a lovely, delicious pear. I am very happy with my pear tree as it looks good for most of the year and it provides us with lots of healthy and tasty pears too. In winter it can look like this, very beautiful, don't you think?
In May it's covered in blossom, a glorious sight, and the bees are very busy buzzing around the tree, pollinating the flowers. During the summer months the little pears slowly grow bigger and bigger. And then in July and August the wasps come, the birds and butterflies too, and all would start to nibble a few pears. Some would eat the fallen fruits, others would start on the still growing pears and I let them. Every year there's plenty for everyone, human or otherwise.
In June I have to thin the fruit out quite a bit. There's usually a cluster of 5 to 10 flowers and when pollinated, the flowers turn into little fruits. Five little pears or more in every cluster is a bit much for the tree, it will take too much energy to turn them all into hand sized pears. So of every cluster of 5, you remove 4 miniature pears. If you leave all the fruits on, then the next year the tree will produce very little if any blossom and therefore no fruit. At the end of September, half October, depending on the weather, it's time to harvest the Conference pears.
Our pear tree has been a very generous tree that gives us loads of pears every year. So many in fact, that we can't eat them all ourselves and we are making lots of friends, neighbours and relatives happy with a basket full of pears yearly.
Last year (2006) was an exceptional year for fruit trees. Never had the pear tree been so full of little pears growing merrily into bigger ones. July was the hottest and sunniest month in 300 years in the Netherlands. Then August came and we broke another record, this time for the wettest month in about a 100 years.
I went on holiday for a week during August and when I came back, I couldn't believe my eyes. Disaster had struck! My lovely pear tree had keeled over, and was now in a 30 degree angle to the ground. Only a few big and sturdy branches kept it from falling over completely. What to do?
I ran out and had a good look at the tree. To my surprise the roots were still in the ground and the trunk in one piece. I tried to get the tree upright again but to no avail. I then called for my garden assistant and we tried to get the tree upright together, but no luck. It was just too heavy, even for the both of us. So I decided to saw of a few of the bigger branches and that did the trick. The tree was much lighter now and we could push it upright and we propped it up with a sturdy pole.
And then I waited, and waited. The next few weeks all the pears fell off the tree, then a lot of leaves fell off too, not all but many and the ones that were still attached to the tree didn't look all that healthy. And I started to worry about my tree; will it survive?
In Autumn it lost the last of its leaves and then Winter came and the tree was either dormant or dead. I just had to be patient and wait to see if the tree had survived its ordeal.
Then Spring 2007 arrived and it looked like this. Still nothing. Was it alive? Had it gone to meet its maker, kicked the bucket, was it pushing up daisies? But no, I checked, no daisies as yet. And then, yesterday, I saw this.
The first sign of life! A miracle, don't you think?
Easily to shed the snow,
And the untaught Spring is wise
In cowslips and anemonies.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), May-Day and Other Pieces