Alas, the picking crew was much smaller this time with two of my sisters out of town, one having to work and, ahem, one just stayed home. So my mother, youngest brother and I went gathering the bounties of the wilds.
We took a ladder, so hopefully we could reach more. But remember that steep bank I mentioned? Were my brother or I allowed on the ladder? No, it was much, much too dangerous! Mother climbed the ladder. That doesn't surprise me. And it didn't surprise me that when the ladder slipped and tipped over sideways sending her to the ground and a bit down the bank, that she determindly got back up and declared over little brothers protests, "I am going to get up there!" I know Mum and I didn't protest, I just helped her back up the bank and watched her resent the ladder while I sent up a prayer. If I were catholic, I would have crossed myself. Mums main worry wasn't falling, it was tipping over the bucket and spilling the cherries. I quietly went about my business, picking cherries that I could reach from the ground. My mother and I, we've picked a lot of berries over the years.
When we got back home Father informed us that the farmer we buy wheat from had asked if we wanted the pie cherries from his tree. So Mum and "Miss Ahem" went to pick more cherries while little brother and I pitted the cherries we'd already picked. We used a straw this time and it worked as slick as a whistle. You poke the straw through the cherries, and the pit pops right out and then when your straw is full of berries, you slide them off. Voila! It didn't work super well on the not quite ripe ones, so we used the hair pins on those. On the ripe ones it worked fine, and splattered just enough juice that I had red freckles all over my face. It's quite a look I assure you. But I got thirteen more jars of preserves, and the freckles washed off.
Today Little Brother helped me pit all those pie cherries from the farmer, this time with a very wonderful cherry stoner. Plip, plip, plip - so sweet. I would have used it on the wild cherries, but it doens't seem to work on small cherries. My hands are very grateful that the pie cherries are big enough to use the stoner. While Little Brother and I canned ten quarts of pie cherries, Mum and Miss Ahem (she's stuck with that name - at least for this post!) went and picked more cherries. Yes, more. That's what I'll be doing tomorrow. And you want to know something? They're planning on making another trip back to that pie tree.
I'm becoming more and more grateful these cherries are big enough to use the stoner and I just love having a little brother that likes to operate it. In fact, I've noticed all the men like the gadget, father even took a turn. I smiled to myself when Little Brother informed his older brother when he tried it, that he didn't have any style or speed. I really liked that style.
There's quite a few cherries sitting on the counter so Little Brother ought to get lots of practice working on his style and speed. And I ought to be in bed now!