Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pear trees and plunderers

After a year away from rambling and writing on the backroads I am gladly back doing what I most love: meeting the people who make this a wonderful world.

Out of the blue, I got a call from Betty Jo Lambard, a kindred soul in Clarke County with a story to share. She told me about a remarkable tree at the house where she grew up near Thomasville. While on the trip we met some remarkable people that made me feel humbled at the blessings I sometimes forget to acknowledge in my daily life. I need those "wake up call" trips often. Before we could go see the remarkable tree, we got permission from the owners of the old home place.

Two older men greeted us at a their home, both holding pipes with lit tobacco. Both had telltale holes burned into their threadbare shirts where cinders landed over time. They were brothers, and one drifted in and out of the nonsensical conversation of dementia. The other looked at me with eyes filled with nothing but weariness. He spent his time caring for his brother, and for another relative. A woman inside the older mobile home was confined to her bed having suffered a stroke years before. Diane Walker was quite lucid, but helpless.
"I've been taking care of them," the man said, with no sign of hope in his voice. "It's been a long time."

After we talked for a while, we headed on to the old house, permission generously granted.
And we got the chance to do some plundering. The old house was abandoned a few years back, with clothes and papers and beds still intact. It was haunting walking through the rooms listening to the silence where sounds of living once filled this home.

In the yard, flowers and trees were blooming. I couldn't help wondering whose hands planted all these, and if gardens were as close to their hearts as they are to mine. I think of my grandmother who had a lifelong love of plants, and of the roses she enjoyed.

And the fruit trees all around the old home place take me back to my own childhood. We enjoyed summertime figs, peaches, apples, plums and blueberries. We picked dewberries in the spring from overgrown fence rows. And in late summer there were pears. Tender, juicy pears. I loved the twisted hollow tree and eating the first yellow fruit of the year. A week into the season, and several would litter the ground attracting hornets and wasps making the pickings treacherous-- but worth it.

There are a few trees that I hold close to my heart, and that pear tree was one of them. The tree at my home place died a few years back.There's nothing left but a low place in the ground and a heart filled with memories. I miss it when I go back, walking across the ground that would have been littered with blooms by now. So I understood the excitement surrounding the Clarke County tree. Once I saw it, I understood the adoration.

Few things in life endure like trees towering above us, lending shade, hiding places and fruit in season. And it is always a blessing to find friends with kindred hearts.

Stay tuned for the upcoming column and let me know if you know of any unusual out-of-the-way places with great stories. I'd love to write about them.

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