Summer beckons.

the first cherries of the season

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.

23 comments on “Summer beckons.

  1. Les

    When I was in high school (oh, back in the late 70s), I ate the same two things for lunch day in and day out:

    Avocado on toast with mayo, salt & pepper

    Homemade guacamole with Fritos corn chips.

    To this day, those food items bring back such memories of my youth.

    Enjoy your new home and the days leading up to your wedding!

  2. vou

    hi! i’m a pretty new celiac guy… i discovered your blog looking for a gluten free maggi cube… I was diagnosed two months ago,i’m italian and i moved for job in Sri Lanka, so , just imagine how tough it can be starting a gluten free diet in a developing country where the level of control on ingredients and contamination is very low…
    Anyway, the country is gorgeous and full of rice!
    you’re a great writer and your blog is interesting and useful. So, thanks a lot and i’ll pass here frequently :-)

    http://www.vouvoltar.splinder.com

  3. steeped

    Mmm, I had a big bowl of cherries for dinner tonight myself. When I think of summer I don’t think of corn or peaches, I think of cherries.

  4. Gemma

    I love cherries as well but they can be so expensive here. I have decided that the pleasure from eating them is worth the extra expense of buying them and look forward to my first taste this summer.

  5. Deborah Dowd

    My kids giggle when they come upon the inevitable “ass cherry”! That would be an excuse to joke (bootylicious cherry…etc) for an hour. I rarely cook anything with cherries because I love them as is. Also, someone turned me on to a microwave version of fondue with cherries– melt a milky way dark in the microwave, stir and dip in cherries (now your shirt can be stained with cherries and chocolate!)

  6. Samantha

    Oh that sounds delightful. I love it when cherries come in season. My boys go ape over them.

  7. Jes

    Dearest Shauna,

    i tried writing an email to you. in fact, i wrote a very long, very heartfelt, very personal email, and, alas, it was declared “undeliverable” mail. sheesh!
    i want you to know how happy i’ve been to read your blog all this time; what an important part of my day it is. i want to tell you how happy i am for you and the chef. i speak of you almost all the time to my dear one, who is from seattle, and possibly thinks i’m such a silly girl.
    we will, tomorrow, be in seattle and would love to come to impromptu some evening. i can’t wait. i’m so excited.
    i’ll pick up a bag of cherries at the market, a bag of fresh roasted nuts, and talk with my sweetie about when we will go to impromptu.
    thank you so much for all that you share with us.

    jes
    healthybird.blogspot.com

  8. Katie

    Ahh… spring and summer can be so hard for me! I have oral allergy syndrome, which means that I’m allergic to many raw fruits, some veggies and all tree nuts. The nuts, I can deal with and even the veggies since I can always cook those (which allows me to eat them safely) and chill them before adding to salads or snacking on. But fruits… nothing beats grabbing a fresh pear, apple, peach, cherries, etc. Canning and cooking just doesn’t quite cut it always…

    Please enjoy a few (dozen) handfuls for me!!

  9. liannallama

    yummy! I love cherries–my favorite! Can you believe we paid $13 for some cherries a couple of weeks ago!? Yikes! I thought they were sold by the bag, not the pound butI bought them anyways. Luckily for us they were so tasty they were worth every penny!

    PS–tell chef that he deserved the “juicing” he got from the cherry! It must have really gotten its feelings hurt by being called an “ass”! Cherries have feelings too, you know! ;)

  10. sweetpea

    Your story reminded me of of one of my finest moments as a pediatric nurse. I was taking care of a 7 year old girl who had come all the way from your part of the country for spine surgery. She spent the entire summer on our unit. When it was time for her to leave we planned a going away party. All she wanted to do was learn how to spit cherry pits. So the two of us sat in the stairwell of the hospital with a bag full of deep red cherries and I taught her the fine art of spitting the pits. We laughed until we cried and it was a fine send off for a little girl. Your cherries are beautiful, enjoy the summer.

  11. Kimberly

    You are a strong woman, Shauna. I shared the first cherries of the summer with my love, too… but only because he was at the farmers market with me when I bought them.

    A friend’s son calls those double cherries “boobie cherries.” He’s still young enough that breasts hold more interest for him than ass. :-)

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    Hi Shauna,

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  13. two trees

    love this post! cherries are an addiction, i tell you. such a perfect ceation. love the “yes.” on your banner. it’s such a wonderfully powerful word. it always reminds me of yoko and john, too. happy day to you! shanna

  14. aubrey

    hi! i read about your blog in the newspaper a couple weeks ago and just wanted to stop by! i love it!

    and i agree, cherries are fabulous right now. so fabulous, in fact, that i was taking pictures of their juicy, red goodness last friday. yumMY!

    in MY home, though, i’m the cherry slave. my 4 year old and 1 year old want the cherries but obviously not the pits. so the good mother that i am, i eat half, spit out the pit and give the other half to one child. then repeat giving the other half to the other child. good times.

  15. In Recovery

    Lovely photo! Unfortunately, I can no longer enjoy fresh cherries due to oral allergy syndrome. A single bite of fresh cherry can close up my throat and send me running for the Benadryl. Only vicariously can I enjoy these first signs of summer fruit.

  16. Food Allergy Queen

    Beautiful photograph, I’m drooling as we speak! :P Unfortunately the cherries here in SoCal are not quite ripe yet, so I’ll have to look at yours for a few more weeks while ours sweeten up a bit.

    And how weird is it that the term oral allergy syndrome came up twice in conjunction with this lovely fruit? I’ll have to do some investigation now, it’s news to me.

    As always, thank you for sharing, Shauna! Congrats on your new and obviously happy home.

  17. celticjig

    Shauna, if you are ever in Michigan from mid July to early August, let me know and I will take you up to my family’s cherry/apple/farm market farm. We have been growing cherries for over 60 years now. We have tarts, black sweets, white sweets and a new variety that you should look for out in Seattle — balatons — they look like a dark sweet and taste very sweet but are a tart cherry, delish!
    Congrats on the new house, it is so nice to have space and room for a garden isn’t it?

  18. Robin

    When I was young my favorites was salmon patties and a big glass of milk…I remember telling my mom when I grew up that was all I would eat!

  19. Jodi

    Hi Shauna,
    Just checking in. You have been away for a few days and I have begun to worry. I have created a few scenerios for you (busy with wedding preparations or helping Chef Danny or working in the garden or maybe saving the world.)
    I was at a picnic the other day with a niece who’s blog somehow introduced me to yours, and we both love your writing and your love story.
    Miss hearing from you. Jodi