O, cherry tree

Posted by Jenni

Every time I go out to water my little garden, I dabble in the shade of the old cherry tree in our front yard. Its canopy stretches over one of the raised beds, the one I fill up with greens.

It needs more attention than we’ve given it. I don’t know how old it is, but it’s huge, the bark is curling in places and there’s a rotting spot in the crook between the main trunk and a giant, low branch. Sap is oozing from a few places on the trunk, amber and crystallized.

A visit from an arborist is in order. But despite my neglect, I love this faithful tree. Puffs of rose-hued blossoms float outside the window of the guest bedroom in the spring. Moss crawls down its trunk to meet a smooth oval rock and volunteer greenery. Its bark turns black at dusk.

I was all ready to tell you how sad I am that this tree doesn’t produce much anymore. Last year, we couldn’t even fill a colander with the sweet-tart fruits.

But yesterday I went to see the tree for the first time since returning from a vacation. I found this:

Last year, the space between the ripe cherry pairs could be measured in body lengths.

When I saw the hanging feast, I dragged two ladders from the side of the house and picked a bowlful in ten minutes. Is it a good year for cherries? Or is our old tree shouting out one last hurrah?

Our problem will be getting to the high-up branches. I suppose we’ll be sharing with the birds, whose legendary feasting landed them a billing in the Latin name for the wild or sweet cherry: Prunus avium.

Even after we’ve picked all we can, I’m told we’ll get to feast our eyes on smooth, taut cherry skins in market stalls until August. My advice: eat as many as you can before they’re gone.

If you do, you’ll be boosting your intake of antioxidants and indulging in nutrients such as beta carotene, vitamin C and potassium. But mostly you and I both will just be swooning.

Enjoy and come back later this week ready to make something delicious.

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