In a Pear Tree

I thought it was a crab apple tree the first year we lived in our house. We let it spill its fruit onto the ground below. The following summer, it sprouted its little green spheres again and I watched with no special curiosity. Then, in the workroom of the hospital, I was offered the smallest green pear I'd ever seen. It was juicy, sweet. And it looked strangely familiar.

I asked my coworker to come take a look at my crab apple tree. Sure enough—it was a pear tree just like his! We invested in a picker and filled a five-gallon bucket with our harvest. We found with a week to ripen on the kitchen counter, they were just right.

Then, there was the year where our crop disappeared over night. We had planned to pick that weekend, but before we went to fetch the picker, we found the tree was bare. At first, I blamed hungry squirrels, but soon realized they would have left a mess on the ground below. This had been a clean job. Every last pear was gone, and not a single one on the ground. Somewhere in our quiet neighborhood, there lived a pear thief.

This year we picked a little too early. The fruit was hard and smaller than usual. It took more than its usual week to ripen. A few weeks later, I was delighted to find a pear still high up in the tree, beautiful burnt orange in color and the size of a fist. But, we soon discovered, it was just out of the range of our picker, probably how it escaped our early harvest in the first place. Eager to please me, though he does not like pears, my husband grabbed the base of the tall branch and shook. The pear dislodged! It fell down on us with a spray of leaves.

Then, we heard it. An angry, punctuated cheep, over and over. We were being scolded by a robin high up in the tree. We looked carefully up through the leaves, and there she was perched on her nest. And as I stooped to recover the fruit, there he was. One tiny, featherless fledgling gasping in the grass, its fate no longer suspended by the thin stem of the pear.