Persimmons, moreover, are pretty.
Peaches are also a lovely fruit, and are even lovelier still whilst becoming part of a huge pot of homemade ice cream, cranked by hand, or dripping down one's face on a hot afternoon.
Our peach tree didn't do well this year, nor did any of my backup trees. I missed them.
Years ago, to call a young woman a peach was to imply that she is not only sweet, but lovely. I'm not even sure if Georgians, who are credited with first referring to young women as such, still use the term.
Pears, on the other hand, are not that aesthetically appealing. They tend to be misshapen, and develop large unattractive, mysterious spots, even before they get good and ripe. Even a well-maintained pear has hundreds of tiny dark blemishes that prevent it from ever being called a pretty fruit.
They tend to be prolific, with even a sickly, old tree producing fruit to waste.
Ugly as they may be, pears are reliable. Peaches and persimmons may be sports cars, but pears are Daddy's old pickup truck.
We're blessed around here to be able to "scrawnch" down on a good crisp pear almost any time over the space of a few months. Even after pears lose their crispness, they take their time before becoming too ripe to eat.
I have seen and heard of many farmers rushing to cover peach, apple, or other fruit trees when severe weather threatened. The lowly pear, however, oftentimes just waited patiently for the storm to strike, and was not much the worse for wear afterward.
One of my favorite pear trees produces a sweet, dripping fruit with little of the pithiness many varieties are prone to producing. It lost a limb in the hurricane recently, but there are probably three or four dozen fruits still hanging from its remaining branches.
Another is possibly the ugliest tree ever created; it stands alone in the yard of an old home, the last residents long since gone to their rewards, the house itself a home to mildew and mice and memories.
The tree stands by itself in the backyard, near an old collapsed well, a perfect target for a lightning bolt. Winds have twisted a few limbs here and there, a gash in the trunk has barely healed.
The gash is big enough that some joker used it to stash his empty beer cans.
That tree, disrespected, storm-torn as it is, half-hollow, and ragged as a wilderness prophet, has somehow avoided the angry outbursts of most malevolent summer storms.
And the fruit it produces is some of the best I've ever had.
I found another such longlost pear this summer.
The pear and two old peach trees flanked a carefully laid stone walkway. Nearby stood an old apple tree that may have been a pear at heart, since its gnarled, wizened fruit were even uglier than many pears.
The fruit of both were barely ripe; the trees were entangled with muscadine grapes gone wild, and the ground underfoot was a riot of mint and rosemary and thyme.
The little house was a sad old relic, roof long gutted by fire, abandoned and neglected by the family. Whatever joys and tragedies had been born and grown there had long since died in the fire.
But somehow, the pear and its companions came back, their bark scarred and scorched and stained with soot, but slowly returning to the gray-brown of a healthy fruit tree.
The walkway and its surrounding beds had, at one time, been lovingly nurtured, possibly for more than one generation.
I am sure weeds were never allowed to grow there, and I can imagine the gardener carefully picking out which sprigs of which herbs to add to a meal, a meal cooked not just with a practiced hand and love, but with a certain pride in craftsmanship.
But people grow old and pass away; children move away. No one weeds the herb garden. No one prunes the old fruit trees.
Someday, the old house in the woods catches fire.
The fire department may get there in time to prevent total destruction, and the demands of saving lives and property always outweigh saving a garden.
The trees are nothing but obstacles, and a lovingly maintained bed of mint, regrettably, must become a churned mass of footprints and firehoses.
The house collapses, and is swallowed by the forest.
The garden, the trees, the grapevines may lie dormant for a year or two, but if left alone, they will begin to sprout new green.
Within a few more years, fruit again hangs heavy on the vines, pollinated by friendly insects dusting their legs and flying from pear to apple to peach to grapevine.
The indomitable pear is likely the first to produce, its fruit feeding the ground and drawing more bees and wasps, who further pollinated the pear's companions. The tastes of the fruits and herbs intermingle, producing a flavor even the most skilled botanist couldn't create.
Eventually, someone who loves pears as much as he does exploring old homesites will stare at the old porch and raise a dripping, half-eaten handful of fruit in salute to some folks long gone who also appreciated the lowly pear.