Saturday, 24 July 2010

Cherry trees

Four years ago I bought a couple of trees from Lidl. They were £2.99 each. I thought that I'd bought cherry blossom trees: I wanted to buy cherry blossom trees. 
There is a road in Southport called Preston New Road. It's lined with cherry blossom trees. In the Spring it snows petals. I always drive slowly down Preston New Road in the Spring because I know that in a couple of weeks the blossom will be gone and I won't see anything like it for another year. If I'm on foot my eyes track the pavement. The fallen blossom congregates in piles of pink and stripes the gutters. Occasionally it puffs up in the draught of passing cars, twirling around. There is something magical about cherry blossom.
I planted my cherry blossom trees in the autumn. In early spring they flowered for the first time. I was disappointed that the blossom was white. I wondered if I'd bought the wrong trees. I didn't have the labels any more; I thought I'd probably made a mistake. In April the green centre of each blossom pushed out through the flower head. These green circles speckled the trees like garden peas. It was several more weeks before it dawned on me that I'd bought proper cherry trees. The first year there were enough cherries for 2 pies. 
Last year I was picking cherries and pulled the central branch of the bigger cherry tree towards me to reach some fruit that was particularly high. The branch snapped off in my hand. I felt like crying. I'd been looking after the garden so carefully, only to tear the central branch from one of my favourite trees. I felt guilty every time I walked past the tree and I worried during the winter that its growth might be impaired in the Spring. By Spring however, the tear in the bark had smoothed over and several small branches were beginning to grow out of the wound. 
This year I've picked more than 20 pounds of cherries. Out of the 200 trees we've planted since we dug up the tarmac car park to make our garden, I like the cherry trees best. Looking at the trees out of the window, picking cherries with purple stained fingers, making cherry pies and crumbles  - these things all add up to small happiness that are difficult to describe, just like the sight of cherry blossom swirling down Preston New Road in the Spring.

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