Anyone who doubts the power of seeing food grow should witness my neighbor boys. These guys learned last year that their new house came with a cherry tree, and they were passingly interested. They weren’t that crazy about the cherry pie I made, but something must have clicked in their young brains such that they associated the tree with food and excitement.
The results revealed themselves this year. Their mother commented a couple of weeks ago that the two older boys, ages 4 and 6 (I think), had spotted the little green cherries in the tree. She reported that “they are so excited” and wanted to know when they’d be ready.
Well, last week they were ready. On Friday, the two guys rang my doorbell (repeatedly) and held up a stainless steel bowl with a couple dozen cherries in the bottom.
“Look! The cherries are ready!” they said. These guys are delights. They are big-eyed, wiry bundles of energy, with the oldest in particular having an astonishingly sunny disposition, and this day they burst with happy energy.
I told them I’d be down to pick some the next day. They said “great!” and ran off.
Ripe for eating
The next day, I saw their dad at the Farmers Market with their equally engaging 1 1/2-year-old brother. Andy said I wouldn’t believe how excited those boys were, adding that all three boys and a neighbor girl, who’s 2 or 3, had spent a lot of time sitting under the tree and eating the cherries straight up.
Amazing, I thought. These are sour cherries, not Bing cherries, and I’m betting they’d have declined to eat them if they hadn’t come from their very own tree.
Later that day I picked cherries with help from Hillary with the plan to bake a pie on Sunday. Before I got to it, though, the door bell rang again. Repeatedly. There at the door was the oldest boy. He held out his hand and opened it. Four bright-red cherries, one slightly squished, lay in the palm of his hand.
“See, the cherries are ready,” he said.
“I know,” I said, “I picked some this morning!”
He continued to hold out his hand.
“Are those for me?” I said. He nodded and placed them into my hand. “Would you like some pie when I get it baked?”
“No thanks,” he said. “Bye!”
And off he scampered.
Pie for sharing
Sunday morning Gordon and Eileen helped me pit the cherries, and I got the pie in the oven before the house heated up. That evening, they and another couple came over for pie. I saved a piece for Hillary and took the last two pieces to an older couple down the alley. Health problems have ended their pie-baking days.
Thanks to that cherry tree, we have four kids excited about a healthy food and the memory of one delicious pie that fed eight adult neighbors, half who had a hand in its creation.
Isn’t it cool how good food brings people together? And isn’t it cool that seeing food grow on a tree has gotten those kids excited?
I think it is. And, hmm, I couldn’t help but notice this morning that more cherries are in that tree, waiting to be picked if the birds don’t get them first. Maybe another community effort is called for. I feel certain I could get some help.