State Fruit

Celebrate the Pear

Anjou, Bartlett, Comice, Delicious, El Dorado, Forelle, Gorham, Highland ...

Pears and their distinctive names go far into the alphabet and still hold their flavor.

Pears, fittingly, are now the State Fruit of Oregon.

This is cause for celebration in Hood River County, the premier fruit region of Oregon.

Thanks go out to Rep. Patti Smith and Sen. Rick Metsger for their efforts at the Legislature to enact the State Fruit bill signed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski last week.

This month the state Department of Agriculture announced that pears had moved up a spot, from 10th to 9th, among the top farm and ranch commodities in Oregon. Pears, with a $76 million value, traded places with onions, at $74 million. (Tops is greenhouse and nursery products at $817 million, followed by cattle and calves ($503 million), hay ($381 million), milk ($363 million), grass seed ($350 million), wheat ($201 million), Christmas trees ($142 million) and potatoes ($91 million).

The Northwest Pear Bureau argued successfully that designating the pear as the state fruit will help Oregon’s 370 pear growers in the Gorge and the Rogue River Valley.

Thanks, also, to the Hood River Grower-Shipper Association and its members for traveling to Salem this spring to lobby for the pear designation.

Congratulations should go to all Hood River pear orchardists. Most of them are too busy this time of year to read much so in case they miss this, congratulate them yourselves when you head out to one of the local orchards to buy home-grown fruit.

You’ll see folks such as Randy Kiyokawa of Parkdale, Craig McCurdy of Hood River, Mike Oates of Odell and Camille Hukari of Pine Grove — to name a geographically-select few — in and around the orchards and fruit stands, and at community events. The people who grow the pears here are your neighbors, and the golden, green and red splendor is the bounty they share with us all.

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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 to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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