This year I really got a bee in my bonnet about cherry-picking in Brentwood. I’ve made it to the age I am (ladylike ahem) without ever picking cherries, & this seemed so very wrong that I almost drove out there by myself(!) on Memorial Day(!) because of course everybody else was hiding at home doing deep cleaning & home repairs, which is the only reasonable way to deal with major holidays. Fortunately The Witch talked some sense into me, mostly by offering to give me some of the cherries she had picked just a couple days earlier while suffering a migraine & heinous Memorial weekend traffic. Even though she was very generous with her hard-won Bings, I still had a hankering for more, & especially for that orchard experience.
Fortunately, this (non-holiday) weekend, Dan was traveling through on his way home from China, & agreed to accompany me on my fruity excursion despite his jetlag. He was a good sport even when it turned out the a/c in our car was busted! We tried to make ourselves feel better by talking about humidity & heat in places like Bangladesh. I’m not sure whether it helped or not.
Anyway, we followed the “organic” signs to Enos Farms, where the nice man reminded us to put on sunscreen & explained that the Rainier trees were mixed in randomly among the Lapins—a charming arrangement.
Here is Dan with Rainiers (not the best picture, but it was the only one I took of the orchard):
There were hardly any people there at Enos, just us & an Indian family with very cute little kids, & granny in a sari. We wandered among the lovely trees that were all dripping with bright, fat, beautiful cherries.
I think they give you those giant buckets because even 5 or 6 pounds doesn’t look like very much:
So moderate did this amount look to us that we went to another farm to pick Bings. (I really wanted my Bings!) We got there only 15 minutes from closing. The place had been quite picked over so that you had to climb ladders to the good cherries up high. We were getting very overheated, tired & thirsty, & to judge by their demeanor so were the workers there. It was a whole different scene from the first place. I won’t mention the name of the farm because I suspect that if we had gone there first it would have been satisfying enough. As it was we were still happy with our couple pounds of Bings, & drove away in search of the largest cups of ice & liquid we could find.
Here is a tip for you when negotiating America. By “America” here I mean those ubiquitous, homogenous, monstrous turd-piles of multi malls containing Michael’s craft store, Home Depot, Walmart, OfficeMax, usual assortment of fast-food franchises, all the same stores you have seen in all the places you’ve been in this great country of ours. These turd-piles smear themselves across the outskirts of every town that ever used to be (& sometimes still are) interesting & unique, including Brentwood. Not long after leaving the farm area we passed through a chunk of new-looking residential suburbia, & then into the America we had seen on our way into town. We knew we could get our icy cups of liquid somewhere in America.
There are many forms of resistance. You can be well-prepared & bring enough ice & drinks with you so that you never have to set foot in America. You can drive around searching for the last little local store in town. You can just go ahead & be hot & thirsty until you get home, it’s only an hour, it won’t kill you. You can go big-picture, decide it’s not worth wasting energy on resistance over something so small as a drink, & just go to whatever bit of America is most convenient & then get out of there & return to your life in which you are hopefully doing something constructive & revolutionary on a daily basis.
Or you can do what I have learned to do: drive into one of those malls & look for the little food franchise that you’ve never heard of. In this case it was Bagel Something. Bagel Street? Bagel Avenue? Bagel Town? You know, something utterly bland & forgettable having to do with bagels. We went in & saw obvious Asian influence: taro & honeydew smoothies, a good selection of tea.
While I was in the bathroom running cold water over my wrists, Dan talked to the proprietor, a 30something Asian guy, probably Chinese, who turned out to be from Oakland & had moved out there in the past couple years for this business opportunity. He said that whole mall was only three years old. When we sat down we noticed Chinese art on the wall & a trippy print Dan described as “future-primitive Hawaiian fantasia” (at least I think that’s what he said)! With dolphins!
Back home I got out our most enormous salad bowl & filled it, I mean filled it, with all the cherries. Now that’s a lot of cherries!