Animal review for
August 12, 2005
Orchard of Broken Dreams
Max Goldt once wrote a nice book, Quitten für die Menschen zwischen
Emden und Zittau. The title means „[fruit everyone has heard of
because it’s often in jelly, but which almost no one can identify on
the hoof] for the people who live between [two places no one has
heard of, both presumably in the former East Germany].“ After five
or so years here, I met one of the race of amiable, forthright nerds
(they were hunted almost to extinction during Germany’s „Troubles,“
but the population is slowly recovering) who give you straight and
accurate answers when you ask questions like, „What on earth are
Quitten?“ And what are they? They are huge, lumpy, rock-hard pears.
That is, they are the pears of Uzbekistan, but only when seen from a
distance through the eyes of wistful longing. Up close they are
something you can boil for jelly.
I was disturbed by the presence of evil (nine feet tall, avidly
branching and flowering, spiny, metallic) thistles. There were only
two of them and they were a good mile from our house, but I share
the reader’s deeply felt concern for the welfare of future
generations, so I felled them one evening with a serrated knife.
Their thick, tense, hollow stems snapped like cables. It was nearly
a month before I returned to the scene of the crime. They were still
something along the lines of dead. Neighboring thistles had resolved
to escape my attentions by not growing any taller, so when they take
over, at least they’ll be short.