Setting Foot on the Shore of a New World (Happy Columbus Day)

For reasons that escape me now, I spent the approximately 43.6 free minutes I had on Sunday afternoon making things with pears. They were actually edible things, not cunning little outfits, but all the same, this is about the point when those reading this who knew me back in earlier days when I was a “real” person with a “real” life may consider jumping on a plane and heading here to stage an intervention.

Remember those beautiful pear trees in the outdoor classroom at Younger Girleen’s Preschool? Remember, weeks before, the way the “OC Team” was summoned to a “special meeting”? At the time, I preferred to discuss metaphor (Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole in particular), but facts are facts: one of the reasons for the special meeting was that pears from the pear tree were falling on the ground and the OC Team was not picking them up on a regular basis.

Let me be the first to testify: you actually can spin straw into gold. I didn’t plan on it, but wow, here we are. Even this blog tells a story of sorts.

Being the girl that I am and the daughter of the woman that I am, I couldn’t stand to see all those pears chucked in the compost. End result: I spent the approximately 43.6 free minutes I had on Sunday afternoon making pear-pecan bread and something called perada that, according to the recipe Googling gave me, resembles membrillo and will really impress your friends and neighbors when you pair it with manchego cheese.

I’m making all these things for a Preschool event, of course (nudge nudge, wink wink).

Way back when Elder Girleen was first born, when at least three-fourths of the time I felt like crawling in a hole and pulling the hole in after me, I went to an acupuncturist. She was a wise and lovely person, and I wish I could say that acupuncture rid me of the urge to crawl in a hole, but it didn’t, but she and I spent much of my first appointment talking about who I was at that point in my life and who I had been before I had children. She asked if I was okay about the fact that I seldom wrote anymore and I looked at her like she had asked me if I was okay about the fact that I had just pulled the plug on my own ventilator, so at that point she beat a hasty retreat and asked me if I was able to find any time for anything else that I considered creative.

Anything else creative? You mean, there was something else? For years, I’d made most major decisions, including where I would live or what job I would take, based solely on my assessment of how much those decisions would affect my writing time. For example: the guy who would become The Husband would to ask me out and I would turn him down because I had to work on my novel. Thankfully, five minutes later, I would realize how stupid this was and call him back. The rest is history.

At the time the acupuncturist asked me this question, I figured she was asking if I had found a way to make motherhood creative, and I recoiled in disgust and every single fiber of my being screamed sell-out at such a thought. Writing was real legitimate art (or at least creative). Anything “creative” I could even begin to imagine about motherhood was simply lowly domestic art. Engaging in the mental smoke-and-mirrors that would render it as creative as writing was the grossest self-delusion.

Five years later, here I am: growing a garden, making a pear-pecan bread that perfumes the house with the cinnamony smell of fall. What I don’t have: that third (or second for that matter) published book under my belt, as do many of my peers.

Contemporary motherhood writing (blogs in particular) are chock-full of a phenomenon involving a new mother who gazed down at the little miracle in her arms and rushed over to the computer and started writing like nobody’s business.

I’d read these accounts during the crawl-in-a-hole days, and they’d just give me another thing to add to the inadequate mother list I was keeping in my head. Not only did I wish that I was off on a spun-sugar beach somewhere in the Caribbean all by myself, but motherhood was not getting my creative juices going. I was a failure not just as a mom but as a writer.

Can the essence of pears, concentrated, its backbone stiffened with sugar and an hour’s occasional stirring, be art?

The tiny Republican in my heart, whose motto is always pull yourself up by your bootstraps and whose job is to keep me on-task still whispers sell-out β€” and maybe I am one.

If pears can be art, it’s a fleeting one, here and gone. No one praises what I’ve created but me β€” I do it solely for myself, for the joy that comes from making.


  1. Ah, this entry stirred my soul this morning. And gave me inspiration to tackle the bag of Macs I have in the fridge πŸ™‚

  2. Can the essence of pears, concentrated, its backbone stiffened with sugar and an hour’s occasional stirring, be art?

    Yes. And that, too.

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