I awoke Saturday morning to my dear husband in the kitchen flipping pancakes on the stove. The percolator was steaming on the back burner, aromas of freshly brewed coffee and warm maple syrup filling the air. Still in my flannel pajamas, I hugged him from behind and thanked him for breakfast. I’m a lucky girl to have such a wonderful guy taking care of me.
After pouring myself a hot cup of joe, I stood for a minute looking out the big picture window in the kitchen. The sun was still low in the eastern sky, shining beams of light through the thick pine trees before me. Little birds were flying down onto the ground below, pecking around in the damp grass for bugs or worms. It had rained overnight so everything was dripping wet.
From where I stood I could see the entire front yard and all of the fruit trees planted there. The elder trees along the fence were full of white umbrella shaped flower clusters. The grapevines on the opposite side of the yard were thick with leaves and dangling bunches of forming muscadines. The new apple trees and beach plums were looking healthy and green. The two pear trees were taller than ever before. The peach trees were full of little fuzzy, green balls, though unfortunately they’ve already been infested with borers and won’t be any good for yet another year. Still no fruit on the Japanese plum tree. Farthest from the house, I could see the fig trees growing low to the ground. I was relieved to see that they were leafing out, slowly recovering from being killed back over winter. Even the young chokeberry shrub in the flowerbed by the front gate was forming its first berries. Everything was looking healthy and happy. It’s been hard work getting all of these fruit bearers going. How rewarding it feels to finally see the fruits of our labor, literally!
Lastly, my eyes fell upon the cherry tree. It stood directly in front of the window which I was gazing from, small and proud and glistening with bright red cherries hanging from every branch. “Look at the cherry tree!” I said in excitement. Quickly I shuffled to the front door and slipped my rubber clogs on. Were they ready to be picked?
The bottoms of my pajama pants got soaked as I made my way through the wet grass. I didn’t care. I couldn’t wait to get one of those bright red cherries in my mouth. I reached out for the ripest looking fruit, but when I turned it in my hand I discovered fuzzy mold growing on the other side of it. Oh no, I thought, have I gotten here too late? There were a few more rotten ones which I threw deep into the woods, but the rest were perfect.
I took my first bite… and my face nearly turned inside out. Wow, that was sour! Perhaps it wasn’t quite ready to be harvested yet. I reminded myself that this was a Montmorency cherry tree, a pie cherry tree, known for producing tart cherries perfect for canning cherry jam and making tasty desserts. They’re supposed to be sour. But this sour? Honestly, it didn’t really matter. If I didn’t pick the cherries right then, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pick again until the next weekend when we’d be home again, and by then the birds would have feasted on every last one. The cherries were red, slightly soft between my fingers, and pulled easily from their stems. They might have benefited from another couple days on the tree, but they were ripe enough to use.
The tree is young, only a couple years old still. Although this year’s harvest was the most we’ve gotten yet, it was only enough to make one pie. But still. A whole pie! Last year I think we got three cherries off this tree. I’m really hoping the tree will continue to grow and do well, and will provide us with many more cherry pies and cobblers in the future!
I think I need to plant a few more cherry trees. Perhaps a sweeter variety. Any suggestions?