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When black raspberries got ripe, neighborhood grownups and children gathered to gobble down undisciplined berries warm with sun and eye each other and laugh for sheer happiness.
As a hedge, they were a mistake. As a treat, they were fabulous.
The main hedge facing street was a row of Nanking cherry bushes about eight feet high. In early spring they were covered with tiny pearl-like buds and white blooms. In summer they glistened with red cherries within lush green growth. The cherries tasted like a cross between pie cherries and sweet cherries. They were good.
One summer day I looked out window and saw a little boy coming down street. I didn't recognize him, but he apparently recognized ripe cherries when he saw them. He stopped and stared at bushes, then moved in closer. I was about to go to door and tell him to take all cherries he wanted, but then I realized he was trying a new maneuver. He turned around facing street and began to back up to bushes. Aha! I thought. That kid's had some education that didn't come from books.
His technique was pretty good. He looked blandly into distance as branches behind him jiggled up and down. When his hands were filled with cherries, he started off running. And I ran too -- to door. I meant to call out, "Little boy! Little boy! Come back." But then I realized that would just make him run faster.
I wanted to say, "You can eat my cherries all afternoon, if you like." But by that time, in a splendid burst of speed, he had rounded corner and was out of sight.
You can come back any time, little boy.
Find Janette Blackwell’s storytelling country cookbook, STEAMIN’ DOWN THE TRACKS WITH VIOLA HOCKENBERRY, at Food and Fiction, http://foodandfiction.com/Entrance.html -- or visit her Delightful Food Directory at http://delightfulfood.com/main.html