Tuesday, October 2, 2012


IT'S RAINING! I WAS GOING TO HANG A LOAD OF LAUNDRY TODAY, BUT I'D RATHER HAVE THE RAIN. I woke to gray skies, and when I went to let the chickens out of the coop, a light mist was just settling the dust in the yard. The clouds gathered, and now we are having a decent rain. I hope it keeps up all morning.

Last week Pam helped me pick pears from her tree. We got a laundry basket of bruised ones to cut up for my crock pot pear butter. It's pleasant to sit in the yard on the glider and peel pears, throwing the cores and peelings and bruised bits to the chickens. Ursula gets a good share, too. The chickens are wary of my dog, but eventually the pears win out and the birds come right up near her, grabbing their trophy of a pear peeling, and running away, triumphant. 

 I filled my crock pot with pears for the second time and cooked it down to a sweet, thick butter. I like making pear butter, because it's so easy, and sweeter than apple butter. I still have room in my freezer, so I don't see the sense in heating up my kitchen for canning. I freeze it in Mason jars and tupperware. Nanny taught me to leave room at the top, so the jar doesn't burst when it freezes. She used to freeze tomatoes and turkey soup that way. We'll have pear butter all winter for toast and pancakes. It's sweet enough to substitute for some of the sugar and some of the oil when cooking cakes and muffins. It's got nothing but pears, not even water.

 The glider is a nice place to sit to peel fruit, but not the only place. Many years ago I built an Adirondack chair out of scrap wood for Michael's birthday. It was sturdy, and the kids and I painted it white. The next year we made another, and then a little table to set between them. This makes a nice outdoor living room, and a pleasant place to eat dinner and watch the twilight gather. Frogs and crickets sing their evensong and bats dive in loopy figure eights for bugs. Over the years, though, the paint chipped and some of the boards weakened. The little table rotted completely away, and the chairs slanted dangerously. Before the rains came, Michael got it in his head to fix the chairs, unscrewing the rotting boards and finding fresh wood in the scrap pile to cut to size. I helped him carry out power tools and find boxes of screws. Together we tested each board for rot and shored up weaknesses. We got to reminiscing about the chairs and realized that they are about 15 years old. We briefly considered just scrapping the both of them and buying fresh new chairs, but as we considered, we didn't even stop working on them. They don't exactly match; I made them a year apart with two different patterns downloaded from the internet, two different sets of skills and experience; two different sets of helpers. I can still pick out which one I made first, see how I corrected some mistakes in the second, but made some new ones, too. 

I think about everything
that's happened since these
chairs were new.

 For some reason, Michael brought up the reticulating saw from the basement, instead of taking the boards downstairs to one of the table saws. The reticulating saw is a loud, clumsy thing, a bit wild for my taste. It makes a primitive cut, and so one of the boards in the back of the chair zigs a little, like a Seussian creation. We found some white paint in the basement and watered it down a little, thinning it to a milky whitewash, and then brushed it on.  
Rain in Beauty; Pare in Peace:
Blessed Be.

I feel a little tug at my heartstrings. I can get nostalgic as anyone, and I think everything that has happened since these chairs were new. To me, pruning, or cutting rotten wood out of a structure, or letting go of relationships or parts of yourself are all the same kind of bittersweet. I'll focus on the sweet part today, and think about sitting in these chairs when the rains stop again, the quiet buzz of conversation and frogs as the evening settles into night.

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