Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Cherry Tree Carol

It's May, but I'm tasting July.

The cherry tree on the corner is blooming. Soon the hard little fruits will begin to set, no bigger than the pit of a cherry. Through May and June, they'll swell with succulence. In the White Nights of Midsummer, a cherry-ripe blush will spread across their maiden flesh, and by July we'll be picking, the first stone fruits of the year.

These, of course, are tart (“pie”) cherries. Minnesota's too cold to raise table cherries, but that doesn't stop us. Here in the North, we know that you need some piquancy to give sweetness character. Without an acid edge, mere sweetness is insipid.

The tree is not mine, but I do have gathering rights. Some years back I noticed that the fruit seemed to be going unharvested, which seemed a shame. My knock at the door went unanswered. “If someone objects, they'll let me know,” I thought, and began to fill my baskets.

Three years ago, a new couple bought Cherry Tree House. I went over and introduced myself.

“Hi, I'm the guy that's been stealing your cherries for years,” I said.

The woman laughed. “You're the third person that's said that,” she said. “Go ahead, pick all you want.”

So I do. Usually I drop off a pint or two of cherry vodka by way of thanks, but that's by the by.

Spring means time to eat up the last of last year's harvest, to make way for what's to come. This morning, I opened the last of the pippy black raspberry jam from the canes out back.

Soon I'll take the last of the cherries out of the freezer. For May Full Moon, I'll bake us up a nice, tart cherry crisp: the last of the old, making way for the first of the new.

It's Spring, but Summer is coming. Can you taste it?




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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 09 May 2019

    This year I bought a pawpaw tree and a persimmon tree from Edible Landscaping. I've planted them and they are both still alive. They are also growing larger. I'm sure it will be several years before I see the first flowers on either of them, but for now I'll celebrate the success of their being alive.

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