Saturday, 29 May 2010

Cherry ripe



In an unprecedented access of initiative, drive and energy I bought a new pair of trainers today. They're called 'baskets' in France. Honestly. Où sont les baskets de ma tante? = Where are my aunt's trainers? (If you're wondering why this should be, the answer's at the foot.)

I had some old ones somewhere, but I couldn't find them. J. may have thrown them out. (For those of a biblical cast of mind, may I politely refer you to the confidently prophetic Psalm 60, verse 7?) J. is away for a long weekend in the UK, so I thought it was maybe time I bought some new ones. So I did. Size 42. Chinese. 22 euros 50.

Non-slip soles. That was the important thing, because this weekend is cherry picking time, and I was anxious to reduce the risk of falling out of a tree and lying in a heap moaning feebly with no one to hear and come running with stretchers and morphine except maybe the lad from the house down the lane who has spent all day trying to play the Marseillaise on his recorder, not an ideal instrument to express sentiments like (lines 4-8) 'do you hear in the countryside these ferocious soldiers roaring? They're coming almost into our arms to cut the throats of our sons and our friends'. But that's France for you.


We've got about a dozen cherry trees, but we only bother with the fruit of about four. First to fruit are the reds. The whites, suitable only for eating fresh or making jam, will be ready in a couple of weeks. So all day I've been swinging from branch to branch and I haven't fallen out of a single tree. Moreover I've picked about 6kg, bagged them up into 600g freezer bags and put them in the freezer ready for the winter. When we're looking for a quick dessert J. empties a bag into a saucepan, simmers them for a few minutes, adds sweeteners if necessary, and serves with cream and maybe a little powdered cinnamon.

My neighbour M. Hector has an individual method of picking cherries. He cuts entire branches off and picks the cherries off the fallen branches. The last time I spoke to him about this he was eyeing up entire trees to cut down. This is tantamount to the French draining the entire Mediterranean to scoop up all the remaining fish.



(Because they're what you play basketball in. I wonder what it's like, being French?)

15 comments:

Rog said...

Takes me back to my student days of cherry picking in North Kent.

I suppose your new Cherry Pickers are not to be confused with Winkle Pickers. I could never see the point of them.

Vicus Scurra said...

I am not sure for how long you have lived in France, but how often have you had occasion to ask about the location of your aunt's possessions?

The first thing that Mr Bruce taught us in our first French lesson was to say "This is a ruler". He taught us how to say it in French, but now I can't remember what sex it was, nor can I be bothered to use accents. I have never had occasion to explain to anyone that "this is a ruler".
Ever.

moreidlethoughts said...

I expect you'll find Auntie's baskets sur le bureau de votre oncle.Bit of a klepto, old Oncle, frequently nicked her pen.

Dave said...

If her postillion wore rubber-soled trainers he could avoid being injured by lightning.

Christopher said...

Rog: Besides keeping a watching brief yesterday, I checked again this morning and am glad to confirm that there's no evidence of marine life in our cherry trees.

Vicus: a) 20 years, almost. b) Frequently. It's an ongoing search. (Actually - and seriously - I only had one aunt, the artist Evelyn Dunbar, much of whose work disappeared without trace after her untimely death in 1960. I would dearly love to be able to leave behind me a complete catalogue of her work, but the search is mostly unavailing and I don't expect it will be possible.)
c) Perhaps you owe your deep concern with those who wield the sceptre to this Mr Bruce?

MIT: I know. A thieving crew of snappers-up of unconsidered trifles. Nothing's safe. Have you counted your spoons recently? No? Hm, just as I thought. But you know where to look.

Dave: I couldn't say which was the more injurious, having a postillion struck by lightning or having one's nipples exploding with delight.

I'm so pleased you take meticulous care with your spelling. The French postillon means (possibly infectious) particles expelled when sneezing, coughing, whispering, exploding with delight etc. Please don't worry - I typed this comment all in one breath.

I, Like The View said...

you might be interested to know that the bank holiday weekend's tv features adverts with Delia Smith (on behalf of Waitrose) showing the public how to make a duck and cherry supper dish. . .

on the other hand, you might not be

Christopher said...

Oh Jax, just at the moment I'm celibate and exist mainly on cheese and lettuce sandwiches and Ambrosia creamed rice with strawberry jam despite J.'s every solicitude to widen my self-catering horizons. Duck and cherries are a distant, unattainable chimaera...but thank you for the thought.

*drool forms oxbow lake*

Z said...

Are blasé French birds not interested in cherries or do you have to compete with them for the fruit? I remember, many years ago, gazing at my cherry tree with anticipation, reckoning to start picking the next day - the birds thought the same thing and stripped it overnight. Worse, they ate all the fruit as it hung there, leaving the stones and stalks still on the tree. We only lived in that house for 3 years, but we never had any cherries.

Christopher said...

I used to have the same problem with a type of wild cherry in Scotland called gean, but here it isn't a problem. Our trees crop so heavily that we might lose 0.01% to magpies. In their profligate way they do tend to take a single peck out of each fruit they attack and then move on to the next, but really the loss is minimal. We lose far more to eve-of-picking showers, which can ruin the whites in a few hours.

Spadoman said...

The cherries look delicious. I love them and they are in season here as well, but from the west coast, (California), not Wisconsin.
Hope you stay stable in your shoes and don't fall out of any trees.

Peace.

patroclus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
patroclus said...

Are you quite sure J. hasn't thrust them into the downstairs lavatory, poking them with a stick and uttering the immortal line (which probably doesn't appear in Psalm 60 verse 7 or indeed anywhere else in the King James version) "Go down, you bests"?

Christopher said...

This is a strong possibility, Patroclus. She is coming back today, so I will question her closely. Meanwhile I wonder if your quote is in any way cognate with 2Kings chap.2, verse 23?

mig said...

We have a cherry tree but as far as I know it's never grown a cherry. Perhaps we should move it to France?
(The word ver is blind. Am I missing something?)

Christopher said...

Hello Mig. This sounds extraordinary. Perhaps you need another for cross-fertilisation?

Our reds are finished now. The whites will be ready in a day or two, so just as I'm getting over aching tree-climbing muscles it'll start all over again. You would have thought cherries would have evolved to contain some inbuilt anti-muscular stiffness enzyme.