“Concorde pears…try them before they’re gone!”
Advertising got me. So, I snagged three bruised up Concorde pears and dropped them in my thin plastic produce bag just in case they really were going, going, gone.
I got home from the grocery store and tossed them in a canvas New Yorker bag and let them wait until I was ready for them.
Growing up I loved pears, and I always requested that they be “squishy.” To this day my mom asks if I’d like a squishypear…she squishes the words together in a special cadence that little Liz etched into our family vocabulary like a groove in a record.
I still love squishypears. But these Concord pears didn’t seem squishy, and I was suspicious of them.
Two days later.
Time to go on my first writer’s retreat. My friend pulled up in front of our house and I loaded my shoulders with a cooler bag, my clothes bag, my writing bag, and finally my New Yorker bag. I set the last down gently in her trunk, anticipating more brown bruises to appear on my get-em-while-they-last pear experiment.
We arrived at The Porches and made ourselves at home. We ate dinner and drank wine and caught up with another writer in the house. Then, we went to our separate rooms.
I spent the first whole day of my writing retreat in solitude, according to plan. I read a whole book, wrote multiple essays exploring my life experience, and took time to pray and think.
I also snacked.
I grabbed a bruised Concorde pear, cold from the fridge. I slid my knife down it’s flesh four times and nestled it into a bowl with thick slices of cheddar cheese.
But no squish at all…I’ve never felt fruit snap apart between my teeth the way my new favorite snack just did.
Side note with a purpose:
Have you ever seen someone cut into a wheel of parmesan? I learned this from watching Ina Garten crack into a brand new wheel on her show. I’d love to try it for myself someday. Here’s what I know…
Take a little cheese knife trowel-looking thing and jab it into the rind…then, tap on it with a hammer…move the knife around tap-tap-tapping until eventually the wheel caves and splits in two.
Parmesan wheels are thick and hard, but you don’t have to hammer very far into the cheese before it cracks open.
What does any of this have to do with me and my Concord pear?
Like a sharp knife hammered into a perfectly aged parmesan, my teeth only had to cut about a centimeter into the pear flesh before it gave way and burst with a sugary snap.
A little more about me: I am allergic to apples (they make my mouth itch) and strawberries (they taste like vomit), and I have this thing called Oral Allergy Syndrome which basically means that if I’m having an allergic reaction to something like a grass or a tree, I might react poorly to a fruit that would normally not make me sick. Fruit and I have a complicated relationship to say the least. For that reason fruit has never appealed to me much beyond the squishypear.
Recently Nick, my husband, asked why I always bought apples (for him) and didn’t get other kinds of fruit…like plums, or tangerines, or peaches? I hadn’t thought about it until then, but I guess the truth was I didn’t know how to shop for them because I spent my childhood with an itchy mouth and upset stomach from the produce section. After a while it was easier to just stay away.
One day, I followed him around the store and let him show me what he liked and how to tell what was the best in the bin.
We got home and I cut up some plums and peaches and nectarines and my life will never be the same.
There’s so much I want to try now!
Because of my allergies, I guess I just stopped paying attention to fruit. I gave up on trying to find some that I liked. But plums! And nectarines! With yogurt and granola! I once was blind, but now I see.
As I settle into a new stage of life I’m taking some time to re-examine my habits. I talked a little bit about that last week over here.
I’m trying to figure out what I like to eat. What I like to do. How I like to structure my day.
For a lot of my life that was structured for me, either by my parents or because of school.
Now, I freelance write and edit from home and am trying to discover my work and rest rhythms.
My first writer retreat last week helped me with this rhythm finding a bit. I was in the unique space of having nothing to do but read, write, eat, stretch, and sleep. I thought I would come home rested, but honestly I’ve been exhausted. I wrote freely for myself and dug into a lot of my personal story that I hadn’t examined very deeply before. It was emotionally and creatively depleting—in the best way. I had to sleep a lot when I got home, my eyes were so heavy and strained.
I found my experience with the Concorde pear to be a welcome, surprising moment of nourishment and rest. I let myself sink in and experience the snap and flavors of the new-to-me fruit. I took a break from writing and examining and simply snacked and enjoyed the warm common space where I sat.
I learned that I need to infuse my focused work time with moments like these to rest. I probably needed more of that time while on my retreat. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.
This rhythm discovery takes practice because it is a practice.
How I can infuse my everyday life with exploration and discovery of new things that I could really love and be nourished by—maybe even things that I didn’t like in the past?
I’m going to see if I can find out.
Have you discovered anything new to love lately? Do you have space in your rhythm to slow down and enjoy what you love?