When we moved to Vermont we learned that there are actually 5 seasons. The fifth one being mud season. My guess is that they had a serious one this year with all of the rain in the U.S.
Now we are learning what extra seasons they have here in the Dordogne. Right now we are eating our way through cherry season.
Seems that half the trees we walk past and take for granted are cherry trees. We just haven't ever been here for their fruit-laden season. The tree’s abundant fruits should have been obvious to us. Tom has spent many hours painting these trees. His artistic eye caught the elegance of the trees and their juxtaposition to the village in the background. He noticed the delicate petals and the sweep of the branches. But we would always be back in Vermont in mud season before cherry fruits set on the trees.
With this years uncharacteristically hot spring the trees are weeks ahead of schedule. I have picked buckets and buckets of deep black cherries. Reduced them down to preserves and had many left over for table fruit.
At first it seemed daunting to climb up on a ladder and reach out for the fruits on the ends of branches, but as soon s one gets started it is easy to gently pull the branches down and pull off five or six cherries at a time. Holding on to the branch with one hand so you don’t have to reach with your fingertips and toes just that bit further than one ought to on a step ladder. I found that I got obsessive about getting every last cherry within my reach. It didn’t help that my ladder holder was just as obsessed as I was and kept saying, “Oh, look at that bunch just there. Go on I’ll hold the ladder just reach a bit more.” And I kept saying, “Sure, but do you have a hold of the bucket?” Because if all of those cherries fell out into the grassy field I was going to kill her!
Two days ago the entire village seems to have had enough of our glorious cherry season. Everyone started trying to give them away to the next person. It was like the annual Zuchini Plague back in Vermont. Enough was enough--cherry clafoutis, cherry preserves, cherries for snacks, cherry liqour, cherries for dessert, cherries sampled from neighbors’ trees as one walked by. And-- almost distressingly-- there are still some varieties that haven’t ripened yet!
Thank goodness they can just be popped into the freezer. We’ll appreciate all of mother nature’s largess on a cold, barren December day.