When I turned nine, I asked my Grandma for a pear tree for my birthday.
It probably seemed an odd request, but I had plenty of GI Joes, Legos, Nerf weaponry and forts in surrounding treelines by that point, so a pear tree seemed like something novel. And, very simply, I liked pears.
We picked out a tiny sapling at Honeymoon Acres in the spring of 1993, and I remember leaving a particularly riveting episode of Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman that Saturday night to plant it out in the backyard with my dad. It would be several years before the tree would bear fruit.
Today, the tree stands white with blossoms, towering about 25 feet over our shed. Each time I come home in the spring, I get out the pruning shears and sculpt the tree, looking to correct excess sucker shoots and ward off potential conflicts between the branches. It's always a very calming exercise. It has become a bonsai of sorts for me, something that is now very much the product of my accumulated decisions. And it bears a heavy crop of fruit at the end of each summer. Too heavy, according to my sister, who is often left to wade through the bees to pick up the fallen fruit in September.
I was out pruning the tree earlier, stepping into the cloud to make some surgical snips and leave other scenarios for future decisions. Law school fell away. So many things sprang to mind as a few bees lolled overhead and several petals fell.
How could 16 years have passed? Where did simplicity like this disappear along the way? What will happen to this tree if we ever move away? What becomes of a boy who asked for a pear tree on his 9th birthday?
There are no answers, of course.
Still, it's good to ponder these sorts of things on occasion, to step out of the stream and into the shade for a bit of repose, to assess the health and history of our branching out as we continue to climb.