I ran out the back door and down the hill at full speed, jumping over the sandbox and straight for the cherry tree. Pulling ripe fruit off the lowest hanging branches before shoving them into my mouth and running toward the swings, I smiled. My sister and I played in our backyard for hours stopping only for snacks from the cherry tree. My mother, wide-mouthed basket in hand approached the cherry tree at a slower gait before selecting fruit for cherry crisp. The kitchen looked like a murder scene when she removed the pits, slicing each cherry in half before baking them with brown sugar, oatmeal and butter, so much butter.
Years later, I picked cherries off another tree 5,000 miles away in Greve, in the Chianti region of Italy. The sun was warm and the breeze blew through the rosemary bushes near our villa. We picked cherries and I cooked them down with sugar and a little Limoncello and spooned them over vanilla gelato.
They were sweet and tasted like summer. Eating fresh cherries in the Italian sunshine was exactly like eating cherries in our backyard in Iowa. And I almost cried.
We removed a tree from our front yard a few weeks ago and in looking for replacements, we stumbled across cherry trees. We’d have to buy two, at least. Fruit trees need a partner to pollinate. I was almost speechless when Chef Fiancé mentioned it (did I tell you that Chef Boyfriend was recently upgraded to Chef Fiancé?). He spoke of the cherry tree at the villa in Italy and how nice it would be to have a reminder of that trip in our front yard. And then he said it: “you guys had a cherry tree on Friendship Street, right?”
I froze. I couldn’t remember ever telling him about the cherry tree. About cherry crisp on hot summer nights. About spoonfuls of crisp in the back of my mom’s minivan as we watched the Fourth of July fireworks. About cherry stained hands and shorts. Sticky palms and red tinted lips. But I must have.
So we’re buying two cherry trees. And it likely will be a full year before we have any cherries. But I like the hope our cherry trees hold. The promise of pie. The promise of crisp. The promise of cherry stained fingers and drops of cherry juice on our back patio.
I can almost taste that first red bite. It’ll taste like sunshine. Like Italy. And like Iowa.