Washing and sanitizing 33 quart jars: 2 hours of hard work for my dishwasher
About 8 gallons of light sugar syrup: $2
Peeling, coring, slicing 72 pounds of pears: 6 hours
Finishing 33 quarts of pears: priceless
Spending the afternoon doing pears with my mom: even more priceless
"I'm coming over to help you do pears," my mom said, upon hearing me worry outloud that I wouldn't get to the over 70 lbs of rapidly ripening pears on my basement floor. I knew she'd come over. She loves to do pears.
There is a quietness to doing pears. The silence of peeling the fruit as its juice runs down your wrists. The whisper of a spash as the pears get a lemon juice bath. There is no frantic chopping as for salsa, no whine of the food processor, no vinegary sharpness in the air from chili sauce. Just the warm mellow smell of the pears, the simmer of the sugar syrup and the the distant click of a sealing jar.
My mother's hands can no longer quilt, and her mind struggles with the complications of daily life. Standing is hard. Walking is harder. But we can sit at my table and do pears, her tremoring hand now firm and steady as the peels fall from the fruit.