Reaping cherries and memories with pie

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.

Why?

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Chasetin Morin
Photo from RCMP
Three men accused of assaulting Blackfalds RCMP officer going to trial

RCMP officer shot and wounded one of alleged attackers in December 2019

The Cenovus Energy Inc. logo seen at the company's headquarters in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
One-time costs of Husky takeover expected to be about $500 million, says Cenovus CEO

One-time costs of Husky takeover expected to be about $500 million, says Cenovus CEO

This drum circle was one of a multitude of activities held at The Hub on Ross in downtown Red Deer. The facility was permanently closed by the provincial government his week. (Advocate file photo.)
Many Red Deerians react with anger, dismay at closure of The Hub on Ross

Many disabled people can’t afford other recerational options, says guardian

Award-winning Calgary developer Brad Remington stands with Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer at the site of three multi-family condo complexes that are planned for Capstone, west of Carnival Cinemas. (Photo by LANA MICHELIn/Advocate staff).
$36M condo project on its way to Capstone development

Calgary developer plans to create 180 housing units to open in 2022

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Workers at Olymel's Red Deer pork processing plant are among those eligible for a $2-an-hour bonus because of the pandemic.
Red Deer Advocate file photo
Two Olymel workers test positive for COVID-19 in Red Deer

Two workers at Olymel’s pork processing facility in Red Deer have tested… Continue reading

Ryan, Falcons avenge earlier loss to Panthers, 25-17

Ryan, Falcons avenge earlier loss to Panthers, 25-17

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2015, file photo, former world boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. shows off his Russian passport during a news conference in Moscow, Russia. Mike Tyson and Jones got permission from California's athletic commission to return to the boxing ring next month because their fight would be strictly an exhibition of their once-unparalleled skills. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)
Mike Tyson, Roy Jones promise a fight in “exhibition” return

Mike Tyson, Roy Jones promise a fight in “exhibition” return

David Hearn watches his putt on the seventh hole during the first round of the Wyndham Championship golf tournament at Sedgefield Country Club on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in Greensboro, N.C. David Hearn, like everyone, has been deeply effected by the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Chris Carlson
Canada’s Hearn looks to shake off poor 2020 results with more consistent play

Canada’s Hearn looks to shake off poor 2020 results with more consistent play

Malnati birdies half of holes to take 1-shot lead in Bermuda

Malnati birdies half of holes to take 1-shot lead in Bermuda

Penny Oleksiak swims the 200 metre race during the 2018 Team Canada finals in Edmonton on Wednesday July 18, 2018. The number of young swimmers in Canada is dwindling because of barriers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Swimming Canada urges pools to accommodate youth, says can be done safely

Swimming Canada urges pools to accommodate youth, says can be done safely

Canada's Meaghan Mikkelson (12) and Marie-Philip Poulin (29) defends against United States' Hilary Knight (21) during the third period of a rivalry series women's hockey game in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada's director of women's national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team yearns for international competition

Canadian women’s hockey team yearns for international competition

Most Read