[NAFEX] amusing the audience

Kieran &/or Donna holycow at frontiernet.net
Thu Jul 16 10:42:05 EDT 2009

    I have always thought that you can get a point across easier with humor, 
that you can do a political cartoon that expresses very complex situations 
and moods in a picture or 4 that would take reams of paper to express using 
words.  My husband and I are currently reading a laugh out loud book, 
Stumbling on Happiness, by a college prof who has obviously honed his 
speaking style to keep his students listening and thinking.  Thoughts of 
that book combined with thoughts of pear exploration may lead to an article 
for Pomona, and I doubt you will begrudge the time it takes to read these 
musings.  The foundation for this article would be Daniel Gilbert's 
description of us thinking ahead, planning and working to make our future 
selves happy.  But will that person, the person we actually become, actually 
be happy with the results of all the planning and work we do for them?  Will 
they rue, "with aching back" as Chris says, "the day I decided to plant old 
fashioned pears"?  Will all this effort actually give me the intense joy and 
pleasure I experienced in the late 1970's biting into a wonderful Conference 
pear?  Will having unlimited quantities of such pears make me happier than I 
was when I had to carefully consider my budget to buy one Conference pear?
    Actually I started out trying to make myself happy and wealthy (in terms 
of food quality and abundance) by planting apple trees.  I grew up in 
Florida in a small town where decent apples (besides Golden Delicious) were 
not to be had.  Variety in flavor, crispness, or uses were not even to be 
imagined as I had no idea such things existed.  So I was unbelievably happy 
finding an abandoned orchard in England and dragging home large amounts of 
Bramley and discovering what you can do with tart cooking apples.  Then 
there were sweet juicy apples and amazing varieties at the greengrocers, and 
all these wonderful foods grew on trees.  Yes, just like oranges and 
grapefruit!  In peoples backyards they grew, they produced, the fruit fell 
on the ground and you could eat it!  I wanted to go right now to Tennessee 
where we'd spent our vacations every year, buy some land and plant some 
apple trees.  There were detours of course, had to get rid of the first 
husband and find one with ideas along the lines of mine, but that only took 
a few years, but then there was the poverty I'd fallen into after leaving 
home, but we did get some land, took 15 years from the first bite of a Cox's 
Orange Pippin to signing the papers.  In all that time I had continued to 
experience the happiness of foraging for free fruit, with no responsibility 
for planting or maintaining the trees.
    I believe that foraging is the natural way of making a living, for women 
at least.  We all adore getting something for nothing, which explains the 
forbidden thrill of shoplifting for those who are addicted to it.  It's 
probably similar to the thrill I get when I discover a patch of chantarelle 
mushrooms or a plum tree loaded with fruit, with the difference that I don't 
have to worry about getting caught because the things I'm getting are not 
really owned by someone else, or they have given me permission to take them. 
(Ever notice how similar permission and persimmon are to each other)  So I 
get a lot of brain chemicals that have to do with immediate gratification 
and planning what to do with my bonanza, though I miss the big adrenalin 
rush the shoplifter gets.  Young boys who climb walls to steal pears or 
sneak into cornfields to steal corn DO get the rush, and food DOES taste 
better than way from what I've read.  There was the guy who talked his 
friends into stealing corn as an adult, and the corn really did taste as 
good as he remembered.  He felt so guilty afterwards that he went to the 
farmer and confessed and paid for the corn.  The farmer said you are welcome 
to steal corn if you'll pay me for it afterward like this.  So every year 
he'd get his friends to experience the thrill of the forbidden and the joy 
of eating it.
    Then there are bargains.  Women like those too.  Examples: time spent at 
a PYO blueberry farm to get fruit half price rather than buy it already 
picked for me.  Bargains are also often unexpected, which makes them more 
thrilling.  The guy with the pickup at the corner selling off the extra 
peaches at a bargain after some confusion in ordering.  He kept lowering the 
price as I went from two to three, so I wound up with 4 boxes of peaches for 
$20 and was up till 2 am canning.  Was I as happy at 1 am as I was carting 
those peaches home?  Definitely not, and my back was aching and my hands 
were scalded.  Was I as happy eating those canned peaches 2 years later as I 
thought I would be when I bought them?  Yes I was, and yes I was wildly 
happy eating delicious fresh peaches for a week or more afterward (They were 
Blakes, in case you are interested.)
    If eating a stolen pear is even better than eating a very good pear 
bought for full price, and if the same pears are better bought on sale, will 
I be happy with the results of years of tending fruit trees???  Will I pile 
the Warren pears into my basket this summer saying grumpily, "Well it's 
about time, 15 years this stupid tree took to make it's first crop!"   Or 
will the 15 years plus the excitement of seeing the first blossoms, this 
summer of watching them grow, the wondering about whether they will be as 
good as their reputation, the puzzle of deciding the perfect time to pick, 
will these enhance the taste?  There were the Moonglow pears last year, 
anticipated for so long, eclipsed by a huge free haul of Ayers from a tree 
in town that were really much better.  Will I appreciate them more or less 
for the work, or rather the lack of work, it has taken to get these pears?
    And then there were the apples, (an indignant sniff) huh, the apples. 
How much have I tortured the future self I became, how much I disappointed 
her.  How much the current self thrills over the current crop of maybe a 
dozen apples hanging on the stunted trees.  I can't understand her even now, 
this self of mine.   Is it only because she expected apples all this time, 
30 years it's been now, and I have diverted her into pears.  It was the 
kindest thing I could have done, saved her even more misery.  But what will 
my future self say when there are pears dripping in unusable quantities?  I 
already know what my husband will be saying about having to dodge giant 
hornets.  Can I be so cruel to him, and to me, to keep planting more pears? 
It's my curiosity, my greed, that keeps me doing these things.  Will that 
book offer the answer to help me decide when to quit?  And there are other 
drives, more complex, drives to become that unknown person in the past, 
decades earlier, who planted those trees that feed others.
     To be continued.....
    And input from others is always appreciated.      Donna 

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