As I was picking, I noticed the robins flitting around and pipping at me as if I was in their chokecherry patch. The nerve. Don't they know that *I* planted this row of bushes, watered them through a drought, and mowed between the rows? I'll admit that I hoped that this row of trees and bushes would attract birds, but I didn't think they would rob me blind! Perhaps next year they'll allow me to harvest if I promise a gleaning for them. As I gleaned the few cherries left behind, I thought about the book of Ruth in the Bible -- how Naomi and Ruth would glean from the fields of Boaz. I always thought, "Well, isn't that so kind of the land owner and the harvesters to leave something behind for the poor to glean," but since picking after the birds, I'm realizing that gleaning is not so easy nor productive. For the same amount of time and effort it would have taken me to pick a whole gallon bucket of cherries, I have just a third bucket of them. And you must know that chokecherries are not the size of a cherry at all, but more the size of a small blueberry. They often grow wild in riparian areas on the prairies and the surrounding foothills, but mine were planted and tended by me. Chokecherries are almost entirely filled with a pit so there is very little fruit. That is why chokecherries are mainly juiced and used in jellies (not jams) and syrups. This year my dad had plans for making chokecherry wine with my harvest, but I called him to say that he must look elsewhere for fruit since I had just a meager third of a bucket to contribute to the wine making. Bah!
The good news is that last year I actually harvested my chokecherries and I still have a few quarts of juice left in the canning cupboard. I'll set to work making chokecherry syrup -- my favorite -- at my convenience. It's the wine making that has become the sad story, but I won't give up hope yet. I intend to keep my eyes open as I travel around the area, looking for wild chokecherries -- fully-ripened, fully-cherried bushes -- and you can bet I'm going to be carrying a couple ice cream buckets in the car just in case!
chokecherry syrup over pancakes