Saturday mornings should have been classically glorious when I was younger, but the second it started getting to be springtime, my parents would designate Saturday mornings for yard cleaning. I can hardly blame them. I mean, I only have four kids and they completely wreck my house in a matter of minutes! Having eight kids, like my parents did? Yeah...I would make them freaking clean. Anyhow, we lived on a huge farm, as I have mentioned several times. Our yard probably covered about an acre or so, which is real dang huge, and we were all sent out to make an attempt at cleaning.
Southwest Missouri is wild and unkempt. Things flourish when you don't want them and they die and wither when you do want them. For instance, we had masses of blackberry briar patches that would scare the pants off of Brer Rabbit. Wait..was he wearing pants? Anyhow, our whole land was filled with strange plants that just blasted from the earth and refused to be chopped down, rooted up, or burned with fire. One morning, in particular, we were burning things. Obviously, this wasn't a bad job for us to do. I mean, destroy on purpose? Check me in.
We were supposed to be doing our burning chores, but my younger sister suddenly got distracted. "Look!", she yelled, pointing upwards to the heavens. There, at the very top of our pear tree was one single, shimmering pear. Well, "shimmering" is not a fair adjective. This pair tree was jacked. None of use knew what to do with fruit trees, and we didn't quite have a trusting relationship with this tree in particular. It grew pears that my sister lovingly named "Leprosy Pears". The skin on them was mottled, thick, and a hideous brownish green. Not unlike the Orcs from "Lord of the Rings." I'm serious. They were an atrocity. The irony is that they were some of the best pears I had ever tasted. Sweet, but not overly so. Hardened and crispy to the point that we could have used them to prop up dead cars instead of the cinder blocks that were currently assisting us. (Cliche, right?). I honestly liked these horrible, weird pears. Then again, that should come as no surprise to any of you who know me. You might look at some of my personal costumes and think, "Oh my gosh, she got her inspiration from the Leprosy Pears!"
So, here was this one pear. Fruit trees are strange in the fact that some years, the bumper crop is so profuse that you could solve world hunger if you could just transport the dang harvest, but then the next year the tree will produce only a few measly little offerings. (Honestly, perhaps I should learn from nature here. Sometimes, you push hard and produce. Sometimes, you take a break and don't impress anyone. ;) ) My sister, my brother, and I KNEW we had to get to this pear. There was no way that we could climb this treacherous tree, because the unpruned branches got more and more spindly and sparse as they traveled up to the top, where the pear was. We decided to just start throwing things to knock it down. Whoever felled it to the earth would gain victory over the Leprosy Pear and get to feast on its vessel!
The only problem is that the pear would not come down. The only other problem was that we weren't doing our burning chores. The only other, more different problem was that my Dad was overseeing the burning, and his kids were no where to be found.
Okay, so if you've ever watched "Parks & Recreation", then you have a good idea of who Dad is. He's sort of Ron Swanson with even less patience for stupidity. Everyone else thinks that they know a guy who is a hard worker. Your hard worker cannot beat my Dad. Sorry, I know I sound like a kindergartener here, but I'm right. He sacrificed every single day of his life for his huge family. He knows how to do everything! He is the best finish carpenter in the history of history. He's worked on mansions worth millions of dollars. He's put all sorts of fancy carved columns in all sorts of fancy places. He has built two different houses for my family from the ground up. He only speaks wise words. He doesn't fill up conversations with useless niceties. And, holy hell, he does NOT tolerate people goofing off when they are supposed to be doing their burning chores!!!
I think I had just thrown a shovel up into the air hoping to hit the pear. True story. Then, I heard some twigs snapping and the sound of footsteps. My blood ran cold as my I turned slowly to behold the dark shape of my father walking out of the mists of smoke. All of us kids just stood there in terror, rooted in place and trembling at the amount of "not work" that we had accomplished. I just knew I was going to get in serious trouble.
My dad silently tromped forward, stopped next to us, bent down, picked up a faded red plastic Fisher Price wheelbarrow, flung it heavenward, and knocked. the. pear. down. First try. He stooped down, picked it up, and handed it to us.
Oh my gosh. What just happened? We didn't get our "butts whupped" (that's how you do it in Southwest Missouri). We didn't get in trouble. I honestly just remember us all quietly going in and eating lunch. Also the Leprosy Pear.
I still think of this story all the time when I feel overworked, overwhelmed, and underappreciated. When I remind myself to "stop and smell the roses", I oftentimes snicker to myself and say, "Michelle, just stop and knock down the pear."