It all started 15 years ago when we planted some fruit trees: A pear tree, an apple tree, and a peach tree.
The first few years, the trees simply concentrated on growing. If we got a warty piece of fruit off one of them before our resident squirrel got them, we figured it was a good year for fruit.
In the race for fruit tree perfection, it seemed the peach tree was going for gold. For three or four years, it grew taller, spread wider and produced more fruit than the other two trees. There was never enough to make peach cobbler or anything because the fruit it did produce ripened at different times.
The pear was growing about a foot a year -- straight up. It was a good candidate for pruning, but what did I know about pear trees?
The apple tree barely held its own, mostly because we only planted one apple tree. It needed to cross pollinate, but what did I know about apple trees?
Then suddenly, my dreams of all the peach cobbler I could eat came to a screeching halt. The peach tree simply decided not to produce any fruit. In fact, it didn't produce any leaves or flowers either. For many months we stared at the naked tree wondering whether we simply forgot it was a late bloomer. But no, by July we were pretty sure it had given up the ghost somewhere along the line. Why or when it happened? I have no idea. What do I know about peach trees?
On the bright side, the peach tree's demise gave my husband a chance to use his chainsaw. He cut the peach tree down with more enthusiasm than was healthy, I think. Then we planted a myrtle tree. We don't know any more about flowering trees than fruit trees, but if we couldn't have fruit, we stood a fair chance of having flowers, we thought.
The pear and apple trees looked on the proceedings with fright, I'm sure, but I gave them a pep talk by explaining that if they acted like the peach tree, the same thing would happen to them.
The apple tree was always pushing the envelope, though. It never produced more than three apples in any given season, which was apparently just enough for the squirrel. I've never tasted a single apple from that tree. But was that the tree's fault? I'd like to give it the benefit of the doubt.
However, my come-to-Jesus talk apparently gave my pear tree enough motivation, from that year on, to sprout enough pears to sink a ship.
I wish I had known about pruning before it was too late to reach the top. The tree is now 25 feet tall with pears growing all the way up!
We now have pears for eating, drying, canning, and jelly-ing. We have pears enough for the squirrel and a rodent food pantry that he is apparently running. We have enough for any rabbits and deer that wander through our backyard. We have pears for neighbors and friends, every homeless person in the county and any unfortunate fool who merely hints that he likes pears.
I can even experiment with pear pie, pear cobbler, and pear butter, because who cares if it doesn't work out?
Let this be a lesson to those who speak harshly to their fruit trees. The tree will have its revenge.
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.