The Great Pear War
This piece came together as a complete surprise. What started out as an essay on the philosphy of Herman Hesse, totally jumped the track and went where it really wanted to go. When it comes to creative writing, intellectually you can place the words, correctly spelled in a sequence that makes sense. However, it's the heart that always breathes life into the tale.
So from April 2002, I give you...The Great Pear War
Herman Hesse wrote about beauty, it's temporary and fleeting existence, and because of this transience, it's value as a precious commodity. Somehow I think if Mr. Hesse were alive today, his head would spin at how temporary everything has become in society. Instant oatmeal, disposable diapers, microwaveable "home cooked" meals, cellphones, faxes, cable, computers... We have become a world spoiled by instant gratification. However, has this indeed made our existence more valuable?
All of us, at one time or another have noticed that time seems to flee much faster as we get older. Why on earth are we in a hurry to rush it along? Do we feel that cramming quantity into what time we have automatically makes it quality?
Last night, while working on my webpages, I stumbled across my picture files and decided to weed out the ones that I really had no use for. "Who the hell is that?" was quickly followed by an instantaneous deletion of that file. Others, I perused with a critical eye, trying to find redeeming value in them, trimming, editing and "improving" the quality of them before saving. I had deleted several files before I realized something. I was smiling as I was looking at them. Wasn't that a redeeming value in itself?
They were random shots taken on a midsummer's evening in the backyard. It was one of those rare occasions when all three of my sisters were visiting. Michele was up from Tampa, Florida with her 14 year-old son, Tony. Ronda had peeled herself from her family and had brought just her four year-old, daughter, Kayla, with her. Toni showed up with her boyfriend, Dennis and his brother Kevin. Ed and I were happy to have them over.
They were sometimes terrible shots. One person would always have a dopey look on their face, half -closed eyes, slack jawed, caught shoving food in their mouth or bending over. These are the shots that you edited the hell out of, discarded, or saved for future blackmail. But looking at them I remembered the sequence of events of that evening and I smiled.
I have a pear tree in my backyard; a vulgar insect-riddled thing that drops tiny, hard, premature pears all over the ground for you to step on with your bare feet and hop around swearing for a bit. My niece spied them and quietly began gathering them, trying to hold as many as possible in her small hands without losing any. Always up for causing a ruckus, Dennis decided to start gathering some too and before too long there was an interesting competition going on between the little child and the grown man. I, of course, encouraged this activity. My bare feet were grateful.
Dennis teased the hell out of Kayla, trying to bargain for her pears, stealing her pears, using pear rationality to coax them from her. The sisters ganged up behind Kayla, feeding her such lines as "I'm an independent woman and I don't need YOUR pears." (which came out as "Ama innapennant womn enni don't need you pair"). It soon became a team event and the pears on the ground were not plentiful enough. My sister, Michele, actually ripped a major branch off the tree in her exuberance to collect the ones that hadn't fallen yet.
I found myself pausing behind the camera as I took these pictures, just drinking in the mayhem and laughter, passing a few more pears to Kayla (I was on her team after all) and thinking how very much my mother would be proud of this moment. I found myself wishing she could be there instead of way over on the California coast with our brother. I wondered which team she would have been on. My mind recorded the images a camera never can. A camera can catch the moment, but it's our hearts and minds that capture the feeling and bring the photograph back to life years later.
I downloaded the pictures from my camera late that night. I never gave them a second thought until last night. Years from now, when I no longer live near this pear tree, when Kayla has lost the innocent wonder in pear currency and my sisters are once again wrapped up in their own stressful existences, I will email these pictures to them. I think they will agree they were worth saving.