We were singing our way through “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and the words “partridge in a pear tree” put me in mind of a short film called The Gift in which a girl is given a pear. She holds it in her hands and smells it lovingly, places it gently in the window, admires it. Moves it to another location, smiles at it. Carries out some small activity, goes back and looks at her pear. Sets it in a dish… That was the whole plot. I don’t remember how it ended but its beauty stayed with me.
I think of that film these days when fruit is a valuable commodity, when we buy a single grapefruit instead of a bag full. Keep that grapefruit a little longer. Admire its texture, its weight, its color. Put it in a bowl to be admired. Eat it in small portions. Treat it as a gift.
A Mandarin orange was a childhood gift. The box of fruit was rationed—perhaps two or three oranges per child over the holiday season—but I could make an orange last for hours by carefully taking each section apart and sucking the juice out of the tiny individual follicles. Such intense pleasure.
Recent gifts: Fresh lobster rolls after the final night of the Living Nativity; singing Christmas Carols with friends around a bonfire on a cold winter’s night that was so deep; having a friend recover from a heart attack; opening the bottle of Glenlivet (a summer visitor’s gift) and savouring the first sip; walking to the Cove and realizing that I’m seeing beauty again and not just dwelling on the sorrow of fallen trees.
Speaking of trees, an early Christmas gift on our bookshelf, The Longbow, the Schooner and the Violin by Marq de Villiers, states that “A decent-sized tree can have more than forty kilometres of roots with as many as five million root tips, and many more root hairs…” Mind-boggling. Who counted all those root tips? Just think of how many kilometres of roots on the Island are now standing vertically! We do love books that set our minds a-tingling.
We turn the page on another year, moving past storms and broken dreams, past Black Fridays and last-minute shopping, past the Solstice, Christmas and Hanukkah, past parties, feasts, decorations and lights… meanwhile down at the Cove, at the edge of the great sea, perhaps at the end of the world, shore life carries on unperturbed. Seagulls circle and cry, tiny worms burrow into the sand and send up squiggly trailings, periwinkles slither to and fro in search of food and adventure, possibly even love.
Below the capes we seat ourselves on 300 million-year-old slabs of sandstone and contemplate the wonder of it all. “More coffee?” my friend asks. She reaches in her bag and pulls out a rosy golden pear. “Would anyone like a slice of this gorgeous pear?” The pear is certainly perfect, but a pear is meant to be eaten, so…
May there be many gift pears in your life. Happy New Year!