Among Parkdale pears, an Anjou rules

The Anjou rules in the Parkdale grow-and-tell.

In an annual harvest tradition at Diamond Fruit Growers, the largest fruit from the Parkdale area orchards goes on display and orchardists try to top each others' prodigious pears.

A two-pound-plus Anjou from Halliday Orchards is the champion so far, said Katherine Widman, scales operator, who organizes the good-natured contest.

The bounty also includes a two-pound Bosc.

"No one remembers ever seeing one that big," said Widman, who has worked for 28 years at the Diamond pre-size facility. (Widman said an Asian pear was delivered Tuesday and it might vie for the title.)

According to orchardists the fruit is bigger than ever this year, and every picking day brings a new surprise, she said.

"They bring them in and try to top all the others. It's a lot of fun."

To honor the orchardists' efforts, Widman started the "pie day" tradition about 15 years ago. Widman gives a pie to the the winner of the biggest fruit contest. She also makes about 10 pies and serves them to orchardists as well as truck drivers and Diamond staff.

Saturday was pie day. Widman served up peach, lemon, marionberry, and of course, apple and pear pies.

"The guys are all so nice. They bring me fruit for the pies. It's just a really fun tradition," she said.

But the largest fruit is saved for display and Widman's own harvest tour.

"Last year I took the fruit to my grandkids' school in Oregon City, and to my parents in Utah, to show them how big we grow fruit in the Hood River Valley," Widman said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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