When children, and some adults, swing the ripe red pendulums from their ears and pretend to be wearing sumptuous earrings, you know the season has arrived.
Obviously, when they arrive depends on where you live. Here they arrive just in time for Christmas, but in the Northern Hemisphere I associate them with my sister’s birthday. The Weevil was born in July and we were often abroad in European orienteering countries for the event.
I have a childhood memory (of course, they are notoriously unreliable) of the Weevil skipping joyously along carrying a Black Forest gateaux (I suspect we may even have been in the Black Forest itself) and tripping; sending cream, cherries and chocolate shavings in all directions. The tears had nothing to do with the skimmed knees.
A stall in Arrowtown tempts you with luscious delights; the sellers have come from That Dam Fruit Stall in Cromwell. You can try varieties and pick a favourite punnet, if you are decisive.
Otherwise you struggle with your choice; red, white, pink or purple? Sweet or tart; ‘subacid’ or ‘bland’ – those last descriptions are not mine but come from the Horticultural Society. They probably provided the more prosaic number and letter naming system, while someone with a little more imagination came up with ‘Liberty Bell’, ‘Stardust’, ‘Columbia’ and ‘Staccato’.
Not only do they taste delicious, but apparently they are good for you. Cherries contain high quantities of the antioxidant anthocyanin, (also found in grapes and berries) so you can claim you are being healthy as you puff out your cheeks with the pips.
We would count them as children to see who we were going to marry; tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich-man, poor-man, beggar-man, thief. There was never any mention of electrical engineers so I can only assume their powers of prediction are equally as good as any other form of divination.
And when the cherries have all gone, it's not too long to wait for the blushing blossoms to appear. Symbolising the ephemeral nature of life, they are bashed and buffeted by the winds but some survive.
They are revered in Japan and in 1912 the Japanese gave a gift of some 3000 trees to America to symbolise their blossoming friendship between nations. Is it even more symbolic that these ornamental trees bear no fruit? Whatever, they look simply beautiful.