The Hard Pear Tree

We’ve got a fruit tree in our garden – a hard pear tree, its a special breed of pear tree that only gives off hard pears, f’kin useless for anything they are, I’ve tried to eat them, you break your teeth on them they are so hard.

Actually its not even our hard pear tree, it belongs to the old codger who owns the house over the back fence, the tree trunk starts in his garden, grows to about six foot high and then suddenly takes a dramatic lean over the hedge into our garden where all of its branches flourish every year, there are no branches on his side of the back hedge, to him it must look like we’ve tied a rope to his tree and pulled it over to our side, we haven’t though honestly.

The old codger is so old that he probably planted that hard pear tree himself back in 1955 when these houses were built, “One day my dear” he will have told his newly acquired wife, “we will be self sufficient in pears, not one pear will we ever have to buy from the local fruit and veg merchant” and with a self satisfied face of smugness that only the very busiest of busy-body know-it-alls  can master he will have taken the spade from his potting shed and marched down the bottom of the garden with a single pip garnered from a pear that, horror of horrors, he’d had to buy, “This is the very last pear I shall ever purchase my dear”

And now 56 years later he sits at his patio doors peering down the garden every autumn, I see him sitting there despondent once again and I read his lips once more as he mumbles incoherently to himself, “No bastard pears again this year I see” whilst I smugly chuckle from my side of the hedge as I observe branches so laden with hard pears that they can no longer support their own weight and lay on the ground exhausted, each bearing at least 100 pears, honestly, if these pears were edible I could supply Morrisons for months, all of their stores, no problem.

And they are big pears, they aren’t those piddly little hard pears that are related to crab apples oh no, my pears, sorry, the old codgers pears in my garden are huge pears, if you could dine off them then you’d dine off one for several nights for they reach the circumference of footballs sometimes until eventually around October they snap from their branches and lay at the bottom of my garden, thousands of the hard buggers, completely useless.

Yes, I’ve tried to ripen them, I’ve done everything that the books suggest, I’ve chilled them, I’ve heated them, I’ve stood them on window cills in the sun, I’ve put them in brown bags and hidden them from sunlight, I’ve urinated on them first thing in the morning for several days but still they didn’t ripen, actually I think someone was just pulling my leg with that last method, still, it kept the neighbours amused until one of them suggested that I pick them from the tree first.

They won’t ripen, they never go soft and every year I just leave them lying on the ground as fodder for an imaginary flock of grateful birds who migrate to this northern extremity of Leeds from Siberia every year to feast on hard pears, “Hey come on boys, shake a feather” they say to each other, “them pears in Leeds will be waiting anytime now” and they fly 2000 miles navigating by the stars only to break their beaks on my hard pears and berate their leader for flying them all this way, “You should know” they say “its the same every year, this idiot only grows hard pears”

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