The summer I turned sixteen, I ate cherries every day. After hours of swimming in the chlorine-blue water of our backyard swimming pool, I came inside to eat the same lunch, every day. An egg-salad sandwich, the creamy whites of fresh-boiled eggs and sunny yellow of French’s mustard, mixed together and bursting out of the bread. A tall glass of Lipton’s iced tea, since I had just learned to like the taste of it. And a mound of dark-red bing cherries. Every day, I ate the same lunch. Was it the need for ritual? The calm place in the middle of the day? I don’t know. I think, however, it was just good sense.
In cherry season, there is nothing like the firm-fleshed fruit. Bite down and feel the juice seep onto your teeth. Nibble around the pit, then spit it out onto a paper towel. Within moments, that white square is saturated with wine-dark stains, as though something ominous has occurred. Repeat.
Really, when cherries are in season, I could eat seven handfuls in one sitting, and still sigh for more.
Cherries are in season.
This morning, the Chef and I sat on our little back porch, the sun staining our pale skin pink. We watched the neighborhood hen and rooster wander through our yard. We talked about the unpacking we might do today, a trip to IKEA, a search for good used bikes to take on the trail five blocks from our new home. We sat back and relaxed.
After our second cup of coffee, I grabbed a bag from the refrigerator. I had been saving these, with great difficulty. After finding the first batch at the farmers’ market, two entire days ago, I made myself wait, until we could share them together. Here was that moment.
A blue bowl full of beautiful fruit. A white square of paper towel ready. The two of us together, with the first cherries of the season. The Chef picked up a particularly large cherry, a mutant one with two halves that looked like the rounded curves of a derriere. (“An ass cherry!” he shouted.) We paused, for a moment, to take in the moment. Our new home, a sun-filled morning, mere weeks before our wedding.
He bit down into the cherry.
And immediately, it squirted all over him, little Jackson Pollock cherry splatters on his face, his yellow t-shirt, and the green chair behind him.
He looked shocked for a moment. I paused for a beat. And then I pointed my finger at his massacred chest and started laughing. The smirk rose to his lips, and then he threw back his head and opened his mouth. And we sat on the porch, sending our laughter to the sky.
Summer is here.