The view from beneath a cherry tree.
It’s been a hectic few days and I’ve gotten behind on my posts and other writing, but sometimes life requires a different kind of presence besides work.
I was already at my desk this morning, ready to write a post, when my neighbor called. There were three key points she wanted to make: First, the cherry trees in the orchard between our two houses were heavy with ripe black cherries, and the farm owner had kindly placed a large ladder against one of the trees should we want to help ourselves. Second, she could see a major storm cloud approaching over the Jura range behind us, a black wall of rain. And third, the farm owner, who usually picks the cherries, is out of town for a week and the incoming rain will probably ruin all the ripened cherries.
The sheep follow us when we pick, hoping for scraps and offering the occasional leg lick in return.
It goes without saying that I dropped everything, picked up a bag and a camera, and marched next door with the sole mission of saving several pounds of cherries from impending rain damage.
The cherry orchard has been sold to developers. By this time next year, the old trees will be gone and this orchard will have nine double townhouse constructions, several driveways, and if the other suburban projects are any indication, no trees (or sheep) at all.
The owner’s sister came by to water the farm’s kitchen garden, and told us that these early ripening black cherries – planted by her father back in the 1950s, were a naturally resistant variety. The black cherries planted much more recently by her own neighbor down in the next village – a more fragile variety – are susceptible to worms and mold.
These old farm cherries have just kept putting out hundreds of kilos of magnificent cherries over the decades, fertilized mainly by successive generations of grazing sheep herds, and with no pesticides.
One of the cherry trees, and my intrepid neighbor at work.
And so my neighbor and I picked cherries among the sheep, achieving a ratio of perhaps 70 – 30 when it came to cherries that landed in the basket versus cherries that landed in our mouths. Now, obviously, I am back at my desk.
Today’s other unplanned task will be making a batch of cherry jam, as well as a batch of drunken cherries bottled in (what else?) whisky.
Come winter, we’ll have cherry jam on toast and marinated cherries in champagne.
We’ll drink to the orchards of spring and summer, and to seizing the day.