Some years the single peach tree in our garden produces so much fruit that I make enough jelly for our extended family and close friends. Other years, drought, warm winters, or a late freeze prevents the tree from bearing. Early this spring, we were delighted to see hundreds of pink blossoms turn into tiny fuzzy peaches. The bumper crop was due to the right number of cool winter nights and plenty of winter and spring rains. I counted the days until the flesh would ripen and the green fruit would morph to peach and cream, fuzzy, deliciousness. I imagined the first bite of the fully ripe fruit so juicy that the nectar would dribble down my chin. I purchased half-pint jelly jars from the local dollar store, envisioning the delight of my family and friends as we presented homemade jelly as gifts.
This year, the tree produced hundreds of peaches no larger than a golf ball. The tree dropped most of its leaves and looked sickly. I researched gardening websites to figure out what we had done wrong. Did we need more fertilizer or water? The answer was that we should have pruned some of the fruit. To be exact, we should have clipped away much of the small fruit allowing each peach six to eight inches of space on the tree. The gardening experts state that the tree cannot provide enough nutrients and water to grow the fruit the proper size. I’m concerned that our tree might not survive the remainder of the hot Texas summer and fall.
My fruit tree taught me a lesson in self-care. While I’s counterintuitive to prune and discard what looks like perfectly good fruit, sometimes I need to do so. Sometimes I do so many things that I don’t do any of them well. Pruning my schedule and my to-do list helps me focus on quality rather than quantity. What do you need to prune from your life and teaching practice?