So, my mom’s yard has lots of fruit trees. Apparently, when my mom bought the land, she planted all these trees and expected them to be non-fruiting. I don’t know what the technical term for it is. Barren, or something. Well, they’re all fruiting trees. The plums, cherries, peaches and apples. Recently, many of them have gotten the axe, like the apples (I read a book about apples, to get good apple trees you have to do the whole grafting thing) and the plums. But the cherries are still there. This month they’re purple, ripe, plump, and Stoker is in heaven. I didn’t know this about him, but he loves cherries.
Maybe he just loves fresh fruit in general. He’s told me about when he lived in Uruguay and ate all the grapes off a friend’s vines over the space of a few weeks. The next year the family showed him all their heavy vines, laden with ripe grapes, but they told him he couldn’t eat any because they were going to make juice. The year before they didn’t have the chance because he ate most of the fruit. I can just see him, eating all the grapes, oblivious to the fact that they had intended to make juice—and really, why wouldn’t he be oblivious if they never told him? That’s an example of how good manners can ruin your plans.
But my mom doesn’t make juice. She lets the birds eat the cherries and probably wishes the trees didn’t make any fruit. The ripe cherries fall onto the sidewalk, from the wind and the robins, and much to her dismay, stain the sidewalk. But only for a little while because then it rains in the autumn and it washes away the purple blood of the cherries.
Well, I live in a house with cherry trees in the yard. Stoker loves cherries. Therefore, he loves me more. It’s the perfect situation for my mom and for him. A few evenings ago he got out the ladder and picked a bowlful of cherries. I don’t know why, but I fell in love with him more when I looked out the window and saw him carrying the ladder from the backyard, up the grass pathway lined with railroad ties. He saw me watching and waved with his free hand.
Every evening he takes advantage of the cool dusk. Last night we played catch in the backyard with my little sister. But Stoker kept taking breaks to pick cherries. So, in fact it was mostly just Cassi and me throwing the baseball back and forth while the leaves of the cherry tree rustled behind me. Occasionally Stoker’s disembodied voice would rise above the rustling, “Oh man, that was a good one.” Or, “Nikki . . . I LOVE cherries.”
I love Stoker.
I mean, how can you not love someone who loves living so much? Not “loves” in an annoying way, like the kind of person you can’t stand because they never get down and when you ask them how they’re doing they always say, “Great!” even when you know for a fact their house just burned down and their car engine blew up, so currently things really suck for them. Stoker takes certain parts of life seriously and he can get sad or angry about stuff he thinks is unjust. But he’ll also stand under the cherry tree and jump to reach a branch or one single cherry because all the lower branches have been trimmed away by my mom’s landscaper. He’ll keep jumping until he gets one. And he thinks it’s worth it, all that work for just one, small piece of fruit.