The giving tree

Posted Sep 24th, 2010 in Eating Niagara

The giving tree

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Every once in a while, I find myself in the children's section of my favourite bookstore, thumbing through the pages that captured my imagination growing up.

On of my go-to transporters back to my childhood is The Giving Tree by children's poet Shel Silverstein. Its timeless bright green cover with a boy standing under the generous limbs of a tree has remained unchanged since I can remember first cracking the spine of this beautiful story when my age was still in the single digits.

Reading that book now is one of the few occasions where I become engulfed in the moment and pulled into another world by the simple words telling the tale of a tall, strong selfless soul of a tree and its friendship with a boy.

The tree gives the boy its branches to swing upon, its bark to carve his initials in and its trunk to build a boat when the boy grows up. It gives and it gives and gives even when it seems it should have nothing left to offer.

I've met the real life incarnation of the giving tree.

It grows a block away from me and greets me with outstretched limbs loaded with hundreds of bright green treasures called Keefer pears.

We were introduced after I dropped a note in its owner's mailbox, asking if I could pick its fruit to donate to charity.

Like the pushy, albeit hospitable, relative who stands over you with a pot plying you with a ladle full of the latest family meal, my giving tree never seems to run out of pears to offer me.

Last week, while on holiday, I plucked 250 pounds of firm, fresh fruit from its branches and could hardly tell I picked anything at all.

Pick more, it offered, even though my baskets, bound for a shelter or soup kitchen were overflowing.

We worked in harmony. I climbed my ladder. The tree revealed more of its harvest for me — a harvest that for years had gone unused. Wasted. Rotted. Converted back into the gems that perhaps the following year would convince someone they were worthy of eating.

I got lost in the majesty of my company as I delicately maintained the fine balance of my 110-pound but spastic frame on my ladder's uppermost rungs, all the while hanging on to a basket and reaching as far as my 5-foot-three frame would allow.

Cars drove past at the busy intersection nearby but all I heard was the melody of rustling leaves conducted by the wind while the pears who ripened before I could find them fell to the ground, keeping time with their dull, staccato thuds.

For several days last week, I visited with my new friend, even when time barely allowed. A looming appointment, only an hour to spare, it couldn't keep me away. Getting lost in its branches was the best getaway.

This week, as I've plugged away at the office, no time for any more escapes, I've longed for those moments. I miss the company and generosity of this stunning beauty that has too long been ignored.


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