My daughter, Raven, said that I need to write more about my childhood. Sometimes, the simplest things, like the taste of a ripe cherry, can trigger memories. While cutting up cherries retrieved from the dumpster, I was taken back to the 1970s when we lived on three acres across from the local runway. It was a wonderful place.
Sarah was the third child of four born to her parents, Joe and Judy. A year or so before she was born, they looked to build a larger home for their family. Someone had given Joe the name of an old man with a good bit of land that had been in his family since before the American Revolution. They even had a land grant signed by the king of England. Joe talked with the old man who wanted to know about his parantage, as well as Judy’s. Their lineage must have “passed the muster” because, soon, they were the proud owners of three acres.
They contracted a local builder to construct a three bedroom brick ranch house on the lot. Eventually, they added a carport with a room for their son and a deck off of the kitchen. Joe loved to work outside and had a huge garden and a barn. He also had a good size orchard.
The orchard was a delight to the couple’s children. Sarah loved to pick the green apples from the tree and could spend hours under the muscadine and scuppernong arbors, eating her fill of the large, native grapes. But her favorite fruit in the orchard were the bright red cherries. Her daddy had to hang aluminum pie plates in the tree to scare off the birds, who liked the cherries as much as Sarah.
There were other fruits in the orchard – damsons, grapes, persimmons, but there were other sources of delicious fruits outside of the orchard. Joe planted a big strawberry patch one year. One spring day, it was raining on the strawberry patch, but not a few feet away where Sarah watched with awe. There was also a raspberry bush below the house. But the most wonderful fruit of all wasn’t on their three acres, but across the road, lining a path which lead to a hill where Sarah and her sisters could watch the small planes take off and land. The path was lined with plum trees.
Sarah and her younger sister would spend hours picking and eating wild green plums. They would fill brown paper paper bags with the sour fruit. Their mother would say that they would get sick if they ate too many, but they never did.
In the orchard, nailed to one of the posts which supported the muscadine arbor, was a bluebird house. In the early spring of 1981, the girls could hear baby birds in the little wooden box, but never noticed a mother bird going in or out. What happened next is a story for another day.