About four years ago, our next door neighbors decided to take down the decrepit, knee-high fence between our properties. We all know, as Robert Frost said in “Mending Walls,” that “good fences make good neighbors,” but our little wire fence was an eye sore and we were already good friends.
We planted a little cherry tree in the space the fence left which produced five cherries the first year. We picked the cherries and ate them, toasting the tree with glasses of wine. We then learned that cherry trees are sociable, so we planted a second tree. I think of the cherry trees like horses I sometimes see in fields, companionably standing flank to flank. There’s comfort in proximity to a fellow being.
The two trees became great friends, both of them growing, and for the last two years, we have been blessed with a bountiful crop of cherries each June. These days, the four of us eat a pot luck dinner together in our back yard, making toasts to friendship, both arboreal and human as we eat.
Then we get to work picking the cherries. We need ladders these days to reach the best cherries at the top of the tree, so we send the men up while we women supervise from below. We’re the “whoopers.”
We gorge on cherries, give them away, pit some and freeze them; a week after we’ve picked them, they’re all gone. What a fine gift once a year: the bounty of fruit and friendship.