There is an abundance of pears at my market right now — Bosc, Comice, Seckel, red and green Anjou— but I’m only buying Williams (we call them Bartlett in the United States) pears. Whenever I bite into one, I’m taken back to last month when Dan and I, along with my son Joshua, paid our first visit to the Giardino Botanico della Memoria. Our NoiXLucoli friends (members of a small local group born after the Abruzzo earthquake of 2009, working to raise awareness of the beauty of this area) provided instructions for locating the tree that had been planted with our support, but we decided to walk through the garden and come upon it on our own. Strolling through rows of young trees, many already bearing fruit, I was struck by the intimacy of the garden. Set on a small hillside in the shelter of the Abbey of San Giovanni Battista and the shadow of the Sirente Velino mountain range, it is a peaceful place, a place where one can go to remember lost loved ones, or like I, who lost a city I had come to love, remember a place and find solace.
|Gillian e Dan Nevers|
A light rain fell, the sky was grey and clouds hung low over the mountains as the three of us traversed, from different directions, the young orchard. We were in no hurry; we knew that we would eventually find “our” tree. When we did find it, I was delighted that it was a pear tree — a Williams pear. The tree was planted no more than three years ago, but it already bore several pears. I looked down to read the plaque at its base and found a small, yellow pear on the ground. A sweet spot of color in the otherwise dark day. I put the pear in my pocket and carried it with me for the rest of our stay in Italy, hoping it would ripen before we had to leave for Wisconsin. It never did ripen, but knowing that I wouldn’t be able to get it through customs, the night before we flew home I ate it anyway. It was hard and slightly bitter. The earthquake that devastated the region April 6, 2009 was hard and bitter. It takes time for sweetness to find its way back into a world that has been hit by great tragedy. The “Giardino Botanico della Memoria” is a place where, I believe, people will come and remember and find a way to let sweetness return to their lives.
|Gillian and Dan are supporters of the Botanical Garden of Remembrance: every year since 2010 they do not forget to
arrange for care of their pear tree. We thank them heartily.