I had my morning coffee and Daily Show fix and then went to the fridge to see what I could eat for breakfast. Yum: A bowl of cherries. It’s funny how an early summer fruit can trigger so many memories, all good.
I remember we had a sour cherry tree between the house and the dairy barn. I would eat cherries off the tree until my stomach ached. Once I remember my Aunt Nancy and some of her children coming out to help pick cherries. Hank or Johnny climbed high up in that tree, and I ran to the wash-house and hid my eyes because I thought they might fall. We picked buckets and buckets of sour cherries from that tree for freezing or canning. That night we had a cherry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream.
Thinking about that warm dessert covered with melting ice cream took me to summer days living on a farm and waking to the potential of a great day. Maybe we’d have to help pull weeds in the front junipers or maybe help pick green beans in the garden. We’d complain under our breath and usually I’d throw a worm on my sister Cathy which sent her into a tizzy. We’d string the beans in front of the tv, bidding on Price is Right showcases, and wondering if our farm-girl bodies covered with chigger bites from the hay and scabbed knees would ever come close to comparing with the glitz and glamour of Bob Barker’s Price-is-Right Models. I’m happy to say the Blose girls have done just fine without the silicone and thigh lifts, thank you. There were trips to the swimming pool daily and a quarter would usually get me a Zero bar, my favorite. Mom would literally just drop us all off. She had raised us to respect the rules and respect others so there wouldn’t be a phone call to her that we were misbehaving. It never happened. I’d inevitably get pool toe early in the swimming season until I had gone barefoot across the barn driveway long enough to build up a good callous. Sometimes my Dad would announce after dinner, “Let’s go to the pool!” Any time that Dad took us for an evening swim meant that we were going to be pulled under, hoisted up into the air 20 feet and we’d watch him proudly doing his flips off the board or dive. This was summer living at the Blose house.
Summer cherries also bring me to vacations. The anticipation of vacation was almost as good as the vacation itself. People reading this may think that this is the wackiest, hokiest vacation ever but we would drive to wherever the National Holstein (those of the black and white Ben and Jerry’s cows for my city friends) Convention was held for the year. There were trips to Louisville, Denver, Anaheim, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlantic City, and of course, Nashville. For long trips we flew, but for other trips we drove. It started out in a big station wagon with Cathy and I having the view from that weird rear seat, looking at the vehicles behind us. So dangerous but all of us survived. After Anne came along (number 7 girl) my parents invested in a motor home. We called it The Barth because that was the name of the brand. The day before the trip, mom would head to the grocery store and inevitably would come back with a 5 pound bag of dark red cherries. We’d try to sneak into them but she would say, “Stay out. They are for the trip tomorrow!” Think about what that one statement taught us: anticipation of a family trip and practicing patience for good things to come…not immediate satisfaction. Mom would do everything to get ready for the trip, but that assured that my hard-working Daddy would be well rested and in a great mood for the trip. And then all of the things that I’d anticipated and expected over the past year would commence: The cherries would be broken out of the fridge before we got on Interstate 81. We’d rotate 8 tracks of John Denver, Barry Manilow and Olivia Newton John, the soundtrack from the musical Shenandoah (oh…talk about patience…8 tracks…kids today would die). Barbara would be asleep within the hour. At some point, someone would fight about space or getting kicked in the head. Mom might remind us how lucky we were to even be taking a trip so figure it out. Dad would make friends with strangers at restaurants and gas stations. We would all feign interest as we drove away and he filled us all in on their life story as if he were hosting a Biography special. The trips would be filled with learning, meeting new friends, and flirting with farm boys from other states. Sounds great, right? You bet your sweet behind it was great.
When I suddenly became a single parent, every instinct in my body screamed, “Show your kids that we remain a family. Show your kids joy. Teach your kids patience. Let them see that some things never change. Let them laugh and not feel guilty about having fun. Let them argue with one another and encourage them to fix it themselves. Remind them they are lucky. Everyone has a story worth sharing so shut up and listen.”
My stomach aches not just from the half a bowl of cherries I just consumed, but because so much has changed. My Dad has been gone eleven years now. There are no longer family trips in motor homes. No trips to museums or pulling over to read a random road marker. None of us really want to know the life story of the waitress who brings us our pancakes. It wouldn’t be a good idea to flirt with random guys either. But so much remains: Barbara does still go to sleep the earliest! The most important part of all is that when we get together for holidays, weddings or even through our private Blose Family Facebook page (no you can’t join), the joy remains. The laughter remains. We tell stories not with regret or sadness but with gratitude. The foundation of what my mother and father created through vacations and day-to-day common sense values will never crumble. Thank you bowl of cherries for triggering such good memories this morning.