Midnight Cherries

Cherries in the tree at night.There’s a cherry tree planted at the front of a local Green P parking lot. The fruit is the bright red sour cherries that are great for baking or making jam. How did it get into the landscaping of a city parking lot? Must be the inspiration of some city workers, but we don’t really know. A fortuitous mystery; we have been keeping our eye on the crop for weeks.

Picking cherries at night.Late one recent evening the moment came. “They’re ripe. We have to pick right now.”

One advantage of city fruit is that night picking is easy under the streetlights. Teetering on my kitchen stool we could reach the prolific crop from the sidewalk. In twenty minutes we had picked our fill and left plenty for others.

For me the object was jam and that freshly-picked fruit has to be cooked soon. When I got home I washed and pitted my take. I weighed them, figured out the proportions and pulled out my pot. I had one-and-a-half pounds of fruit, so one cup of gooseberry juice from my freezer and one cup sugar.

By 1:30 a.m. the first jam of the summer. A tiny output from our midnight jaunt, but gorgeous, tart, delicious.

So here’s the idea. In Toronto, it’s easy to make life a bowl of cherries. Every Green P Parking Lot in the city should have a sour cherry tree. They are beautiful, bountiful, and a lovely neighbourhood resource. And we could call the lots Parking Pits.Green P parking lot sign.

– Schuster Gindin
Photos by Suzanne Long and Schuster Gindin