Two beautiful cherry trees grow in our back yard.
Their delicate white blossoms delight us in early spring. We watch in wonder and anticipation as tiny hard green knobs form where the flowers dropped. Our cherries are not those big burgundy globes that children love to stuff into their mouths directly from the tree. Our cherries are smaller, bright red, and juicy, with a challenging sweet/sour taste, the sort that teaches the youngsters how to spit. Our cherries are “pie cherries.”
One summer when my son was about ten, we spent May and June days watching these cherries grow and slowly turn color under the sun. Our mouths watered a little more each day as the fruit ripened until the harvest finally arrived. We put aside the baseball equipment, gathered our ladder and buckets, and walked to the trees to claim our reward.
We spent the day plucking cherries. Then we made three huge pies. That
evening we treated ourselves to a special delight – cherry pie topped with
large scoops of vanilla ice cream. And again the next morning. We took
our breakfast pie outside to watch as the robins began their turn at the
trees. They always got the crop at the top half of the tree, where the
sun’s influence is strongest, where the cherries were beginning to taste
very good. We enjoyed the spectacle for several days as the birds returned
again and again to their version of Mardi Gras.
Did you ever see robins get drunk on fermenting cherries? They fall down, roll about, lie a while on their backs, rock side to side until they right themselves, then wobble-hop a step or two, and finally, after a few false starts, with a great rush of effort they manage to lift off only to bang headfirst into the first obstacle. Occasionally, they knock themselves out, literally. If they stagger into one another, they nod as if saying “scuse me” or giggling at the other’s clumsiness. Ever see a robin hop backwards, just one or two steps? Sometimes they seem to realize the futility of it all and just fall to the ground to wait until their navigation systems are in order again.
And the wonder of it all? They pause only long enough to smooth their shirt fronts, and then it’s back to the bar for another round. I haven’t actually witnessed robins drifting into sentimental song or falling down in unison while slurring bawdy lyrics paired with tunes from old standbys like “Oh! Susanna.” I don’t even know if robins have old standbys, but I can imagine their slurred notes as they dip and swerve an erratic map toward the roost.
Yes. Two beautiful cherry trees grow in our back yard.
Copyright © 2008 Vernon Miller. All rights reserved.