There is a pear tree in my neighborhood. It is the only edible fruit tree, other than the American plum on the boulevard across the street, within ten blocks of my house. I have been watching the tree, a twenty-five foot specimen growing straight up and loaded with fruit, in anticipation of asking the homeowners - if you don't gather the fruit may I? I'd like to can the pears for winter.
I've been optimistic, looking at the house, a white bread faux-Tudor with a manicured lawn, home to the sort of people who drive to the store to buy pears rather than pick them off their own tree.
Sometime this past week, someone cut off every branch below eight feet.
The madness of this cannot be overstated. Not only is it unhealthy for the tree to trim live branches in the middle of summer, there were probably 100 unripe but soon-to-be-ripe pears on those branches. What did they do with them? Stuff them in black plastic bags, set the bags in the alley? What, they couldn't wait until the pears were ripe, give them to a church or school or food shelf? Put a damn sign in the yard - free pears? Probably the jackass man-of-the-house was tired of having to mow around the drooping branches. If it was just about not wanting to clean up the fallen fruit, he would have likely cut the whole tree down.
I should have asked earlier about gathering the fruit. They might have left the pears until they were ripe. Still, cutting every reachable branch from a fruit tree? It simply never occurred to me that anyone could ever conceive of such a thing! Madness. Stark raving insanity; and yet, an oh-so-very mundane ho-hum middle-class American thing to do, by a consumer well trained. Shameful, really.
Telling this story to a friend, asking why we don't have fruit-bearing trees and shrubs all along the parkways, he said, "Well, nobody wants to look at homeless people gathering apples." Right, so we feed them the worst kind of unhealthy commercial food-product, and over-ripe, rotten, toxin laden, fossil fuel derived fruits and veggies from California and South America - even as we deprive everybody local of something fresh and wonderful. Indifferent to the long story of our species and the food shortages that have always been a part of that story, and will be again. It is madness. Stark raving insanity. Ho-hum, America.