Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day Weekend: Hiking and Cherry Harvest

Today I harvested and pitted three gallons of dark red carmine jewel cherries. That's probably a tenth of the total crop. I have toiled since early spring to control fungus and keep the insects, birds, squirrels, and chipmunks out. These cherries are one of the many crowns of human ingenuity. Specialists at the University of Saskatchewan have been working for more than 50 years to create a sweat and tart cherry that can handle their brutal winters. They bred more common cherry varieties with a wild cherry from the Himalaya Mountains and selected the offspring with the best fruit for multiple generations, providing us with a tasty result that nature could not and would not provide. I love artificial selection: Our hunter gatherer ancestors would be shocked at the good things we eat. The wild animals know it too--They take my fruit over wild berries whenever they can.

I have seven bushes presently in production, each near 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. I gather the fruit by the gallon and run them though a commercial pitter, pack them in quart bags, and settle them into a deep freeze. 

Besides the fruit picking, Sunday morning, I jogged 11 miles around my neighborhood, then I hiked the White Rock trail along the Taconic Crest to the Snow Hole with my 13 year old son. Here are a few pictures: 

The snow hole typically has several feet of soft snow left over in July, but last winter had far less snow than average, so all that was left was a small pocket of ice in the bottom of the hole. It was refreshingly cold down there, though. The ferns, mosses, and plant and animal life were remarkable. After finishing the hike, my smartphone beeped at me congratulations: My most active day since I purchased the phone over a year ago.