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The Shade of the Pear Tree

Brain freeze.

I suppose my cousins are like yours in that we only get together for a funeral and it really shouldn't be that way. We are connected on the maternal side. My mother had three sisters and a much younger brother who wasn't expected but wound up being everyone's favorite. It is funny how the last one turns out that way.

One sister died suddenly fresh from high school, my mom had two, Margaret had one kid, the young brother had four but Charlene had five. By the time you unwind the grandkids and now great-grandkids there is a pile of us.

When our grandparents were living, we didn't depend on a sad day to get together.

So long as the weather was warm, there would be at least one freezer of hand-crank ice cream.

Planning wasn't necessary. My grandfather returned from town with a large, brown, thick paper bag of crushed ice, and the women started working on the custard in the kitchen.

There were abundant places around the yard to crank the ice cream freezer, but the spot of perpetual choice was a shady spot under an ancient pear tree that was present when my grandparents bought the farm in 1915.

The males moved out of the house into the deep shade of the pear tree. My grandmother prohibited good chairs leave the house, but there was a milking stool, a couple of ladder-back chairs with stretched out bottoms and a wooden Red Rock Cola crate set on end against the tree.

The women cooked up the custard and cooled it in well water then delivered it to the males who packed ice, sprinkled salt and turned the crank.

Growing old enough to turn the crank was an achievement. The boy cousins wanted to do it until they had to. Then we looked around for younger boys anxious for their turn.

My plan was to take cuttings from that one surviving limb of the pear tree, root those cuttings so all the cousins could have a living keepsake of our grandfather's pear tree.

The cuttings didn't root. I know people, and resent them all, who are able to take a twig, stick it into a can of soil and turn it into something with roots.

Last spring I had over a hundred azalea cuttings. I wanted to root them and have azaleas blooming like crazy around this place.

I think one made it. Maybe. The poor thing still has a few leaves, so I assume it is doing something worthwhile, but I'd have to pull it out to check it for roots.

I need to take a class if I can find one.

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