Before having a career and being a homeowner, when life was of the simpler variety, I went cherry picking with my dad. We pulled up to the grove in his old rusted Caprice Classic (which not surprisingly became mine once I was licensed), dust in the summer heat mingling with our exhaust. The next few moments are a blur, but I’m sure we exchanged words with one of the workers, were given a basket and pointed toward the cherries.
I think you need to understand my father a little before I go on. He’s the kind of guy who never really grew up, and he’s proud of it. He’s not immature or irresponsible, he just never forgot how to be a kid, and I think that may be the attribute I’ll end up admiring most about him. When I was younger I got a Slip ‘n Slide. He was the first to wet his belly. I got a Power Pad for my Nintendo. He was the first to test it. Cannon balls at the neighbor’s pool. Whiffle Ball in the back yard, laughing all the time. So when we had our baskets in hand at the cherry orchard, there was no holding back.
We ate far more than we picked, red cherry juice dribbled down our shirts and bulging bellies. And this was before we even found the sour cherries–warm from the sun, delicately juicy and tart. The pit-spitting battle was epic, hiding behind trees, surprise attacks from the rear, giggling like we were best buds, and we were, still are.
Yesterday my wife brought home fresh cherries and it all came flooding back to me. I can’t look at a cherry anymore without thinking of that day in the orchard with my dad. I’m sure the day wasn’t perfect, riddled with blemishes as all days are, but that’s not how I remember it. I remember it like a Norman Rockwell masterpiece. Memories are good like that.