Fresh Facts: A working day in a peach tree pruner’s life

By November 22, 2015Fresh Facts, Newsletter

Let’s do a mental time lapse video of “a working day in the life of a peach tree pruner” together shall we.

It starts before daybreak when everyone gets to the job site about a half hour early—don’t ask me why—and build a big bon fire. This isn’t just a winter thing; it’s an every morning year-round deal. They make a big pile of dead limbs, pour diesel on it then stand around the fire and visit and drink coffee.

You might think this must be a Latino thing, but for maybe 30 years, I had a crew of good ol boy Okie loggers who did grafting for us each winter. Guess what? They’d get here about half hour early, in the dark, and build a big ol bon fire, stand around it and visit. The only difference is the loggers used chain saw gas to light the fire, and spit plenty of tobacca juice in the flames.

This fire burns down while they work until lunch time at 10:00 when the coals are great for warming tortillas.

Okay, back to our time lapse. When it’s time to start, the foreman doesn’t say anything; he just walks into the field and starts pruning a tree. The men gather around the tree and watch the demonstration. He talks about the tree like a proud parent—after all, he and the men planted and trained every orchard here one time or another—describing the nuance of this particular variety, and the different care it will need to yield at fullest potential.

Then, while the sun peeks warmingly over saw-tooth above Mineral King, they all move-off to their lottery chosen row and in Michelangelo fashion release David from the stone. The stone they start with is a chaos. The David released is a beautifully productive tree; its fruitwood strong, evenly spaced; poised for both yield and renewal.

The time lapse would move down the row at about one tree each 10 minutes. Even at real-time, you’d see a ballet of efficient movement, up and down ladders and limbs, chaos yielding to order. I think one of the greatest benefits of all types of farm-work is being able to look back at day’s end and see how the world is physically better than at sunrise.

******Thanksgiving, gratefulness, gratitude. The proven health benefits of gratitude are surprising; truly, ‘a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.’ Conversely, the negative impact of ingratitude is alarming.

I read that persistent ingratitude is the equivalent of smoking 3 packs a day; 3 packs! What if we put a Surgeon General’s message on the entrance to all California businesses: “Warning, ungrateful entry may make you sick.” On life insurance applications: Do you do any of the following dangerous activities: Sky dive, bungee jump, ingratitude?

Then I started thinking about the horrible effects of second-hand ungratefulness. Just living with the ungrateful can similarly shorten one’s life; just ask the parent of most teenagers.

But, in typical Uncle Vern fashion, we don’t just identify the problem, we fix it; ya ready?! Just like smoking, if people want to be grumpy and ungrateful, there’s not much we’re going to do to stop them, but what we can do is establish ungratefulness free zones. This is an ungratefulness free restaurant, hotel, work-place etc.

To do this, we’ll have to designate ungratefulness areas with signs: “Ungratefulness permitted here.” This would be a place outside and downwind for the grumpy to congregate miserably without infecting the grateful. Be thankful, be healthy and

Author Uncle Vern

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