Miraculously, the May-June-July monsoons did not prevent the cherries from ripening. Somehow they gleaned enough light and energy from the milky sun to turn into hundreds of juicy blisters ready to burst. They reddened within days and the annual race to pick and pit before the starlings and squirrels reaped the bounty was on.
The rain in the past 3 months has been relentless and ark-worthy. Every day waterfalls cascade from the roof gutters which would have to be the size of playground slides to hold the volume without overflowing. The ground gushes when trod on. I tip my planters sideways every day to drain the excess water. One pot without drainage holes filled with water and the dirt overflowed. A green patina skims the stepping stones in the back garden and the massive tree roots on the side of the house are treacherously slippery. Looking on the bright side – from the safety of a big umbrella – the plants in the flower beds look Jurassic and the hosta leaves like something Eve might have used to fashion a robe.
But back to the cherry tree. She – for what other gender could such a prolific ruby-fruited beauty be – is tall. Ignorant as we were about fruit trees when we planted her, we let her grow untrimmed, rather like a Rastafarian’s hair. The only fruit accessible is the stuff hanging low and even then we have to reach up to pluck them and they squirt us in the face with cherry juice every time.
The tree was a baby shower gift for our eldest daughter who is now 23 and about to leave the nest. We were pretty ignorant about babies, too, but somehow she grew up more or less unscathed, much to our amazement. No tears here about the imminent departure. I’m ready. She’s ready. And her 2 sisters, who have been sharing a room for the last 20 years, are ready to take over her bedroom giving one of them highly prized real estate.
The moving van is rented and a moving out “shower” has been organized and I’m now in the “stealing hugs” phase. Our eldest is not a physically demonstrative person. She sends me loving text messages but in person she reserves her displays of affection for extreme moments like when she went to Europe on her own for two weeks and I got an “I love you” on departure day. But I’m getting bold as I realize our time together is shortening. I go into her room at bedtime and request a hug or ask for a hug in the kitchen or as she’s about to go out the door. Surprisingly, she agrees. I suspect she’s indulging me and I’m okay with that.
As I pick cherries, I think about our first baby all grown up, just like the tree. She’s eager to grab some fruit of her own and grow a new life away from us. Its bittersweet – like the cherries.