Jewels from the Orchards

Cherries at Ball Diamond Road, Q. Cassetti,2010The universal cry that came from the group this morning was that we all live in an extraordinary and beautiful place. Kitty and Alex and I piled into the Wonderbus with Shady this morning to pick sour cherries with our friend Peter and Peggy (and Meryl) on Ball Diamond Road. Little did I understand the marvels and wonders of this experience.I am hooked.

First off, it promised rain at 6 a.m. when we left. I was a bit worried as Peter picks whether it rains or not…and I was not psyched about that. But as we pulled into the orchard, the sky miraculously cleared…swept down the lake by the breezes, and the cool humid air surrounded us as we joined the few to start the picking. There were gigantic dark red/black cherries (sweet) clustered in trees, and the beautiful cream and pink Queen Anne cherries (sweet) surrounding the patch of our trees we picked.

Peter and Meryl  had a for real picking basket, which is truly the key for true productivity. The basket is hung around your neck and fastened at the hips. There is a canvas flap across the bottom that hooks up and over the bottom of the basket so it can dump the fruit easily into a container without any spillage. We had metal bowls and postitioned ourselves around, “using the gravity” as Alex proclaimed to help us fill them. We really hit it right as the crop was robust and you could stand under the tree on the underside and pick and pick all the low fruit (I am short, so finally this is something I can do). Kitty got up into Kitty up a Tree, Q. Cassetti, 2010the trees (shes a climber) and positioned her bowl close to the trunk of the tree, casting down handfuls of fruit for collection—our silver bowls brimming with brilliant red fruit.  Shady guarded us (read, lay in the grass and wagged her tail at anyone that came by) and will filled many bowls and delivered them to Peter who was sorting them. Peter has all sorts of culinary projects to divide the pulp, the pits and the skins between so nary an ounce is wasted. It is always fun to see what Peter comes up with every year and to be involved on the absolute front end is an annual occurrence that I hope will become a tradition.

It was lovely with the birds, the wind, and the view down to Seneca Lake with the early morning evolving and warming. By 8 a.m. we had made a big dent on what Peter wanted to accomplish and by 8 a.m. we were not the only people picking. The Mennonites arrived promptly at 8, bringing all the right tools from ladders to all sorts of buckets and pails to take their collection of sweet and sour cherries home. There was far more interest by more parties in the sweet (which left the garnet jewels, the sours, to us). It is the fruitier’s  first day of fishing season—this first day of cherry picking. It is truly remarkable that these trees bearing white flowers only around six weeks ago had fruit for us to take home before the first of July.

Work awaits, but I had to breathe a bit of this your way….happy first day of summer…try some cherry picking yourself!