Yesterday was the Day to pick the Nanking Cherries. For most of my life picking Nankings has been a yearly event. When I was a child we had a long hedge of Nanking Cherry bushes and my mom made jelly from the juice of the cherries. It was our job to pick the cherries and we couldn't swim or play until the daily quota was reached. I know there were days that I griped and moaned about the chore. It felt like I had to pick cherries every day of the summer. Now I know that it could only have been a week or ten days - at the most! - and probably only an hour or so of each day at that. But I also remember that it was pretty fun sometimes. Cousins came to pick for their moms, or neighbourhood friends joined us at times (there were plenty of cherries for all). Of course, there were spiders and scratches, spilled buckets and tears; but there were also picking contests, laughing and talking while we picked, and the simple satisfaction of filling the bucket and being done for the day.
Now we have a Nanking Cherry hedge that grows at the back of our garden - this year the cherry crop is heavy. I started picking early, when the morning was fresh and quiet. Just the birds, the squirrels, the spiders and me. Thomas, Jane, and Theo joined me partway through the morning and were a very welcome distraction. (I must admit that when Jane walked into the garden in her perfectly adorable black and white dress I felt totally under-dressed at my own cherry picking party - my perfectly comfortable and grubby grey knit shorts just don't have the same cachet.) Theo announced that he was going to pick 200 cherries .... I think he probably did!
I am grateful that I had to pick cherries - that my parents were wise enough to teach me the value and satisfaction of doing a chore and doing it well. It is a joy to see my children teach the same lessons to their sweet children, even though it is no easier than it was for my parents to teach me. I love that we have a family culture of working together - and that working together is fun.
Post script - wow! father and son... not just a little alike!! And (excuse me, please) but sooooo swoon-worthy handsome. Love them, I do :)