A few months ago, Morgan and I were driving down a road near our farm when I saw the most beautiful horse I’ve ever seen in my life. I stopped the car and we just sat there, admiring the horse. It had a gorgeous blonde mane, with a dark and light coat, lots of contrast, and that gorgeous mane. There were at least a dozen horses up on the hill, different kinds, fascinating. There’s just a small bit of the property by the road that is visible–most of it is over the hill. I’d never seen horses in that spot before, and have never seen them since, but every time I drive by there, I look for that beautiful horse. I didn’t have my camera with me when I saw it, and wished I’d taken its picture.
But back to yesterday! Because bargain boxes of canning apples just aren’t good enough, I remembered yesterday that it was pear time. I know just where to go to get free pears–
–and it’s just a couple of miles and a few turns in the road from my farm.
Strewn all over the ground, they were!
Now, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t constitute pear-stealing. I had indirect permission of a sort to pick them. It wasn’t exactly updated permission, but let’s not get picky about picking. No one else is picking them, that’s for sure. There were lots of sad, bad ones left to rot.
In fact, I didn’t really even pick them. I just scavenged off the ground along with the bees, bugs, and birds. The tree was LOADED, but no need to go there.
Of course, first, I had to pull over to the side of the road, finding a good spot where people could get around if anyone came by on this remote gravel road, and then find a place to get in there. I walked back and forth and eventually decided, whatever, and I just got in there. The brambles tried to stop me. I re-trained the brambles to a fence post then went for it again. I managed to shove myself between the strands of barb wire and only left a handful of hair behind. The day had turned bright, but it had been raining all morning so it was muddy. As I walked, clods of mud splattered up my legs. I stepped on the billion pears, some rotted, and they burst, splattering up my legs, too. I tried not to step on very many pears, but it was difficult to avoid them.
Pears were plunking down off the tree with every turn of the breeze. I couldn’t believe I got out of there without a pear or twenty falling on my head. Of course, one might say that if one has dubious permission to gather pears, one might deserve a pear or twenty on one’s head. But the pear gods were with me.
In all the time I was picking, only one person drove by. The man stopped and called out to me. I thought, great, now I’m in for it! He said, “Do you have horses?” I wondered if he thought I lived there, on this abandoned farm. For all the barb wire, there were certainly no animals. Or, actually, a house to live in. I said, “Yeah, I have a couple horses.” He told me he’d noticed the Sassafras Farm bumper sticker on my Explorer. There is a horse image on it. Then he wanted to know if I wanted to buy some horses. Ha. No, thank you! But I asked him where he lived, curious, as I wasn’t far from my farm and I’m always interested to meet farmers in the area. I told him where my farm was, and he told me where his was, and turns out, he is the farmer with the most gorgeous horse in all the land. He told me he had Halflingers and Paints and Tennessee Walkers. He used to show horses, but has too many now and wants to unload some, and he’s also selling a cart he uses with his Halflingers, and a saddle. We talked horses for a bit–I told him all about my Shortcake–then I told him I might, maybe, come see the saddle sometime as I’m still borrowing a saddle for Shortcake. And I might not be able to resist a chance to actually take a picture of that gorgeous horse he has, and just breathe in the air around his other beautiful horses. But I don’t want to take one home, thank you very much. It was nice to meet another farmer, though, and someone knowledgeable about horses nearby. He wrote his name and phone number on a piece of paper and put it in my Explorer.
I kept picking pears the whole time we were talking. No stopping when you’re picking pears.
In the end, I filled five 5-gallon buckets with pears. The hard part was getting the loaded buckets back to the Explorer, and getting them–and me–back through the barb wire. But I did it!
It’s been a few years since I picked pears in that spot. I went there with 52. He helped me find a place to get over the fence, and he carried the buckets, and I probably wouldn’t have gone at all if I hadn’t had somebody to go with me. Yesterday, I stood there in the beautiful October sun on that West Virginia ridge top, mud all over my legs, buckets filled with pears I’d carried myself, scrapes all over my arms, and thought, This is the difference between me now and me then.
It’s the kind of thing that comes in unexpected moments, when I’m out of the “busy-ness” of most days, and I realize…… I really love my life right now.