All grown up



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.



31 thoughts on “All grown up

  1. Good grief I thought we had bad rain in Glasgow! Three months is bonkers. So chuffed they didn’t ruin your cherries though!

  2. Lovely. And on a more prosaic note, I am so envious of your cherries. When we first bought this land, egads, 25 or more years ago, we planted all manner of fruit trees. And the deer proceeded to mow them all down. Every last one.

      • When we had a vegetable garden (we don’t now – having decided that real farmers, of which there are many nearby, do it much better), we had a very high fence. Now we’re down to a war involving the hostas and day lilies. And, sadly, the deer are winning!

  3. How beautifully you write Susanne! A rite of passage. And having experienced this with both our boys, I can tell you it is pure joy when they call or text to ask ” if you’re not busy, I’ll stop by”. And trees and nests!! And “highly prized real estate” brought me laughter.

    • Its always great to have you drop in and comment, Shubha and I appreciate your wisdom about the days to come with our daughter. I’m delighted my post brought a smile, too!

  4. I hear you loud and clear. Enjoy the cherries and enjoy the last bit of daughter on the runway to take-off. It is time, you are wise and life is waiting in the wings to embrace the new for you all.

  5. What a beautiful idea for a baby shower gift. I am sure she is feeling a similar mix of emotions to you; excitement, the hesitation of facing the unknown, readiness and the sweet poignancy of parting as you both go on to a different phase in your relationship and lives. A truly lovely bittersweet piece of writing.

    • Thank you, Andrea. That cherry tree has given me loads of fruit both creative and for eating. It will, of course, always make me think of my daughter.

  6. Ahh! You could talk to my mom who is still waving and toasting in my general direction over the sea eight hours away, even though I moved there four years ago. Right now I’m visiting. Yesterday she took me to the beach, today for ice-cream. But great to hear that you are ready and everything is ready, even the cherries. Interesting that you have sexed the cherry (as in assigned the gender). My favourite book is “Sexing the Cherry” by Jeanette Winterson and if I could find a way to translate the title, I might have translated it all by now. Also, in the garden of the house where I grew up, there grows a fir tree, planted when I was worn. We have both been very happy. Sends some your way.

  7. But don’t forget, just like the cherries, they keep coming back…… equally as welcome and with just as much wishing that they could hang around a bit longer. 🙂 Love your photos of the sheeting rain against the tropical colours. Our summer was the same earlier this year, have I shared that before? But the autumn was lovely……..

    • I’m hoping the rest of July will improve. We had 2 days of sun in a row but tomorrow more rain. I hope my daughter comes back often. Although we’re all mentally and emotionally ready, it still feels strange.

    • Thanks, Sheila. The cherries are VERY sour and are best made into a crumb cake or muffins with a crumble topping or topping for a vanilla/ lemon cheesecake. I have about 8 cups of them in the freezer, just waiting. Mmmm.

  8. I love the story here. My family was somewhat reserved and I (being the eldest child) didn’t learn to hug till long after I was grown up. Our family loves cherries too, though we never had our own tree. Just a couple weeks ago one of my brothers and my sister came for a visit and we picked tart cherries at the orchard we used to visit as kids. Was fun and bittersweet. I posted a collage of photos from that. Love tart cherries! Loved your post.

"The river flows both ways." (Margaret Laurence)

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