Monday, July 7, 2014

Cherry Picking

          We are so happy to be visiting the Okanagan right at the beginning of cherry season- this is the time of year that a random rain storm can either make it or break it for orchardists- currently all we see is blue skis! The fruit is beautiful- and delicious- just as I remember it fresh off the tree. Our Littles are very well versed in where our food comes from- we have planted gardens- pumpkins, carrots, radishes, garlic- we have picked apples in the orchard and plums but never have they picked cherries. There really is nothing quite like eating the fruit right off the tree- still warm from the sun.

        When my sister and I were small we used to head to our Great Aunt's house in Kelowna- as the wife of a former orchardist it was only natural that she have a large and healthy cherry tree sitting on her corner lot. What I remember is how bug that tree was- watching the legs of adults disappear up into the leafy branches- surely up past the telephone lines. Hot, bright skies against the cool, lush, greenery of an ancient garden. My sister and I stealing handfuls of cherries from unattended buckets- hiding out in the dank, dark woodshed with our pilfered treasures- hanging pairs of cherries over our ears - pretending to be grown up ladies.

        It must be natural for children to hang pairs of cherries over their ears- those dangling pars just beg to be jewels against little one's necks- the best sort of jewellery one could wish for- surely worth more than the largest of rubies. These Okanagan cherries are a symbol of the industry that once drove the Valley- before boats and wineries became the working man's measure of success.

        Our children clamber up the ladders like monkeys- perhaps there is some sort of innate memory- my maternal family has a long history with the Valley's orchards. For now what is important to them- on this visit- is not the disappearing orchards of the Okanagan- or the massive spread of condos- or the roar of outboard motors- what is important to these little ones is climbing up a tree and picking the yummiest cherries they have ever eaten. Reaching up to pluck those jewels from the tree and stuffing as many as possible into their mouths!


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