The first of the stone fruits showed up at a small temporary fruit stand on Woodside Road. Cherries. Warm, round, juicy, and sweet. I hadn’t considered cherries a stone fruit until the bubbly young woman selling them referred to them that way.
“Last to blossom, first to fruit. That’s cherries. And once they show up, apricots, peaches and plums can’t be far behind.”
I always put cherries in a separate category, with their own special short season. They come earlier than the other summer fruits and are usually long gone from produce stands and grocery stores by the time beautiful ripe peaches were easy to find. I remember the vans, tents and stands that showed up briefly along the Sonoma Country roads we sometimes traveled when I was growing up. Where were going? I don't know anymore but I vividly recall one cherry seller with van he always parked under the same grove of Eucalyptus trees. A hand painted sign boasted “fresh cherries” and "ice cold cherry juice" but we never stopped. Who can blame my parents? Maybe we had to be somewhere or they were worried about somebody's bedtime or naptime or mealtime.
But once I had a car of my own, I went searching for that van. Despite the fact that it wasn't cherry season I hopped in my brand new 1983 Toyota Corolla and went looking for a familiar grove of Eucalyptus trees with a beat up van parked in the shade. I found it. "Ice Cold Cherry Juice" was the only offering that day. I bought myself a large bottle and drank it on the spot. The color was rich and deep and the juice was not too sweet. It was refreshing and delicious.
The road takes a different curve in that spot now and the Eucalyptus trees are gone but I still catch myself looking for that van when I find myself driving through Sonoma County. Happening upon that stand on Woodside Road yesterday was the next best thing to finding that long gone van.
I’m happy I was able to rise from the cloud of a serious cold and that my schoolwork was behind me so I was able to leave the house and do a few errands or I would not have seen the inviting “today's pick” tent that popped up in Redwood City yesterday.
I’m thankful for the hardworking young man who drove the freshly cherries picked all the way from Escalon, California so his girlfriend could sell them and I could enjoy them.
I'm very happy that the once resident teen has returned home from his first year of college. Surely the best sign of summer's arrival.