Hold the Cherries

Anne Kimball

Life on the Funny Farm

The other day Fred went a little crazy pruning some of our fruit trees (cheap therapy). After he came in all sweaty and scratched up, I surveyed his handiwork. Looked like a tornado hit. There were branches everywhere and our poor trees looked like, well, poor trees.
He waved his hand in a sweeping motion to indicate the arborial slaughter and said, "Perhaps you could have the kids pick these branches up tomorrow".
"And do what with them" I inquired curiously.
He hesitated when the proportion of the problem sunk in and then muttered, "Just have them throw them into the side pen and I'll clear them into the ravine with the tractor another time".
Oh, another time. Our famous words. The translate loosely to "It'll never git dun".
But ever willing to serve my darling husband's wishes, the next day I rallied the troops and told them it was time to go move some branches.
"Why, was there a storm?"
"No, your Dad trimmed the trees."
There followed some wailing and moaning of biblical proportions, but they managed to rip their bottoms from the couches and chairs and head outside to survey the damage. New round of wailing and moaning. But I stayed the course, assuring them they would have No Fun of Anykind until this chore was completed. They slumped their shoulders to the point of defying gravity. Physics would dictate they should fall over with their shoulders rounded forward to such a degree, but upright they remained.
Once they were underway I headed back inside to moan and wail over the chores I needed to start in on. After a bit, as I was cleaning in the kitchen, I saw a bowl of cherries on the kitchen table. Some of the kids had picked those yesterday and weren't they yummy. I popped a couple in my mouth and went about my business, but some nagging issue was starting to solidify in my mind. It started as a vapor but continued to take shape as I moved along, chewing my cherries. Into the trash I spit the pits, and the fog of a problem finally took shape. I picked up the phone and called Fred, who was out at the tractor store.
"When you were trimming the trees, did you happen to cut any of the cherry tree branches?"
"Yeah, some, why?"
"Because the wilted leaves of cherry trees are toxic to goats and horses!" I yelped, revealing that on rare occassions my brain was capable of retreiving pertinent information.
"Well just tell the kids not to throw them into the side pen."
"Too late, they've been at it for awhile now."
"Well then ....."
But I had already hung up the phone and raced outside.
And yep, there were the goats, clambering over the growing branch pile like ants on a watermelon rind, munching happily away. I yelled for the kids to stop throwing branches in, ran into the pen and chased all the goats out.
The kids were staring at me like I had finally lost my mind.
I scanned the ground and found the offending item I was looking for. I waved it over my head for all to see.
"See this? This is a cherry tree branch!"
They were looking sideways at each other now, finding it amusing that Mom was becoming so unhinged right before their eyes.
"We need to go through these piles of branches right now and remove ALL of them."
"WHAT?! We just put them all in!"
"I know, I know, but cherry tree branches are poisonous to goats and horses."
Bella started to cry. "You mean all our horses and goatie-goats are gonna DIE?!"
"No, honey, only if they eat the leaves after they get all brown and shriveled. But we have to get them out of here now before they eat any more."
"But I don't want to touch them if they're POIsonous!"
"No, honey, they're not poisonous to touch. Just if they're eaten."
"But I eat cherries all the time!"
"The cherries aren't poisonous. Just the leaves. And only if they're all brown and wilted. And only to goa..... oh never mind, just get in here and start taking out any branches that have leaves that look like this. And any leaves on the ground that might have gotten ripped off the branches when you threw them in. Pretend it's like an Easter egg hunt."
So the kids now began working in reverse, pulling out any cherry tree branches they had thrown in only minutes before, deconstructing their giant bird's nest. It was kinda like playing Pick-up-Sticks only with giant, scratchy, interwoven branches instead of skinny little colorful sticks. Had I recorded the children as they undid all their hard work, I could have sold it to a movie studio to be used as audio for a scene where family members look thorough a bloody battlefield to find their fallen loved ones all disemboweled and decapitated. The moaning had reached its pinnacle at this point. But I have to give credit where credit is due. They did it. Our side pen was once again a habitable pen for our four-legged friends. Our one-day-to-be-removed-to-the-ravine-branch-pile had now reached new heights and could probably be seen from the town center.
Just then Fred came home and asked how he was supposed to mow the grass with this big pile of cherry tree branches in the way.
I had a few choice ideas of what he coud do with the branches, but it is my intent to keep this blog G-rated, so I'll not post my suggestions here.

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