Distracted by the promising color of cherries -- and other fruits
January 10, 2006
If you walked into my cozy little home tonight -- right now --
see my life splashed with red. My red couch, resting against a
beige wall; me on my little chair, wearing a red shirt, leaning
against my red cushions; the red kitchen with white tiles; the
red tablecloth on our dark wooden dining table. A little bit of
red almost everywhere. And among these splashes of color, one particular
splash of misplaced caught my attention and made me a little discombobulated.
I was relishing a bowl of cherries with my eager accomplice of
a husband, and their sweet redness got me thinking.
We went to Costco
yesterday, and happened upon the loveliest looking cherries I’ve
seen in a while. In America, fruit almost always looks beautiful.
You may not smell anything when you hold it close
to your nose. You probably won’t taste anything when you
eat it, either. If you want cherry or orange flavor, you can have
it in some syrup form -- but rarely in fresh fruit form like
you did in Iran.
So there we were looking at a
lovely box of big, red cherries. M pointed them out, but I was
the one who couldn’t resist the sight of them, even though
I knew it was long past cherry season and even during cherry season
it wasn’t really cherry season here. So we came home with
our box of cherries in the trunk, and between you and me, I was
a little distracted by their promising redness all the way home.
I eventually washed them and piled them into a dark brown bowl.
They were a beautiful sight. I was happy before I even tried a
Eventually, I broke down and started eating them with
M. Lo and behold, they were delicious. Not as good as the cherries
from our orchard in Iran on those hot summer days, long, long
ago; but they were delicious none the less. So as we sat there,
our bowl of cherries, I was tickled by our red theme, our out-of-season
bowl of cherries and memories of days gone by.
The joy of cherry
eating gave way to thoughts of my past life. Once upon a time,
we only ate cherries in the summer -- their
shiny redness signaling long days away from school, reading and
staying up all night with giggling cousins who’d stay over
for whole weeks at a time.
As a matter of fact, I associated fruits
with different times and things in my life. Watermelons floating
in the pool or fountain signaled sweet afternoon snacks and cool
breakfasts, the time between filled with cousins, family, chores
and moments stolen in a corner with books I’d smuggled into
the house. Honeydew, apples and pears were back to school season,
days full of trepidation at the thought of new teachers, classmates
and new book smells. Oranges, tangerines and ‘sweet lemons’ chased
away our colds in the winter, being squeezed by loving grown-up
hands and mixed in careful portions to prevent the bitterness of
one, balancing the sourness of the other.
Finally there was beautiful,
fun Spring with its baby fruits that weren’t quite ready
for Eid yet, but were so fun to eat -- the sour plums, the choghaleh
badooms, the giddiness of life in our childish hands. This life
by the seasons had a certain charm, the limitations making the
heart beat fonder for what was yet to come. Why else would we get
so excited about the idea of watermelon on Yalda, the thought of
now-bar fruit and the arrival of every season’s specialty?
Today, if we crave watermelon in December, we can go to Vons and
get some-- cool and pre-cut for our convenience. Strawberries are
almost always available, large and tempting, even if they lack
any identity what-so-ever. Even the lovely cherries we bought --
while a treat -- don’t belong on my tongue right now. The
thrill of seasonal life is gone, erased by the seamlessness of
life in America. I appreciate this convenience, it appeals to my
ridiculously impatient nature.
But each time I bite into a peach
in November, eat watermelon with bread and cheese in February,
or find big strawberries winking at me in the store in December,
I’ll know these fruits are misplaced relics from another
world. They are no more what they seem, than I am. We’ve
just found our way here and made this place home for today, knowing
our roots and flavor are elsewhere -- despite the pretty packaging.