It was more than 20 years ago when my brother brought us a cherry tree.
For sure, bringing a cherry tree, especially, from Saskatchewan to Alberta, does pose an obvious question.
Well, my brother had his reasons.
Our yard, barren of pretty much everything except a wild rose bush could benefit from a fruit producing cherry tree.
Not only would it look awesome, it was prairie hardy and my brother was sure it would give us a bountiful crop of cherries every year.
I remained somewhat skeptical and not even really all that grateful.
But still because my brother came bearing the gift, I dutifully dug and scraped and prepared the earth right along beside him so we could put the thing in the ground.
I remember the day mostly because we were happy, the soft blue-sky overhead was filled with promise and I knew that later we would sing.
I always loved the singing part!
When my brother came to visit, he brought with him music. The music was in his head, but I knew before he left it would come out, some how, some way.
At any moment he would pick up his old guitar, the one that smelled like old wood and cigarette and campfire smoke and my brother himself and I would nestle down beside him. And we would sing. Cowboy songs and hymns. Rock ‘n roll and negro spirituals.
That year we added a new song to the songbook that lived in our heads. “It’s Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom Time,’ we belted out with gusto.
And in the back yard, even as the notes fell over its skeletal form, the cherry tree sat, small and still and bare.
But it was to not be still and bare and quiet for long.
Before I knew it, the tree was covered in a froth of blossoms, smelling like hope, soft and gentle blossoms like delicate old lace, not yet torn by harsh winds or rain.
And then came the cherries.
Deep red clusters, so tart they caused your mouth to pucker just by looking at them.
And every year the red ripe cherries always made their way with a resounding plop into an ice cream pail on their way to made into something, jam, pies, custards. Cherries, cherries, cherries. Everywhere.
My brother passed away a few years ago. And every year when we harvest the last of the cherries from our tree, I think of him.
And I think about the way his eyes crinkled when he laughed and how we would sing.
And how he always brought me music and laughter and an infectious spirit of optimism when he came to visit.
One year, he also brought a cherry tree.
It is still there.
And, even though his old guitar sits idle and I can hear his laughter only in my head, I feel like his music and his laughter lives on as well.
And as I make yet another cherry pie and my kitchen are sticky with sugar and red cherry juice, I smile a little as I remember.
My brother brought me a cherry tree once!
Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives with her family in Sylvan Lake.