Around this time of year I start watching the grocery store ads to see when the first cherries arrive in our local produce departments. I normally wait until they go down to a decent, non-wallet gouging price. Well, yesterday I gave in because the bags of fresh fruit looked too good to pass up. And they did not disappoint. Most of the cashiers at the store are teenagers and their eyes grow large and shift from the screen to the small plastic bag on the conveyor belt and back disbelieving the tiny bag costs so much.
While I love the taste of those juicy red orbs, there is more to a cherry for me than just enjoying the taste. It brings back memories of the summer when I was eight. I spent a month in Utah that summer with my aunt and my cousin. Cherries for me bring back memories of sitting in the cherry tree in my aunt’s back yard during the day and eating cherries until my cousin and I were both sick. Memories of digging up night crawlers to use as bait the next day at the lake. Memories of pancakes for dinner. It was the first time I ever had breakfast for dinner and it’s something I still find myself doing thirty years later.
During that month in Utah, I honed my roller skating skills on the streets of Orem, spent time playing in the water of the drainage basin that ran through town. On days when it rained or was too hot to go outside, we made blanket playhouses in the basement while we waited for my aunt to get off work. These were the days when an eight and nine year old were perfectly safe left home alone. My cousin is a year older than I am and most days we got along great. Kids will be kids and there were days where we didn’t speak to each other but we usually got over whatever bothered us pretty fast.
Those summer days still linger in the back of my consciousness. My cousin and I are still close, though for a while we lost touch. Thanks to the wonder of technology and the reality of a fast dwindling relative base, we found each other again. As I get older, the memories of my childhood seem to demand more attention. And the first cherries of the season always have that effect. This year, the first good looking batch was in stores right before my birthday so I’m taking advantage of the timing to treat myself.
So excuse me while I wipe the reddish-purple stains from my hands and tie the stems together. Wonder if I can still spit the seed as far as I used to?