Backyard Harvest: Cherry Oh, Cherry Oh, Baby!

We’re on the road for a week and away from connectivity. Before leaving, we picked a giant bin of tasty backyard cherries from our tree, and we’ve been happily spitting the pits out the car window as we ramble. Which prompts a re-posting of this great Tangled Nest entry written by Tom in the summer of 2009 (when the cherries came more than two weeks earlier – this post was dated June 29th 2009, while this week our cherries are just coming to full ripeness as we head into the second half of July!)

I was leaning way off the top of the ladder, swaying with the cherry tree in a light breeze as I reached for a cluster of ripe fruits just beyond my grasp, when the UB40 song popped into my head.

“Cherry oh, Cherry oh, baby.
Don’t you know I’m in love with you
If you don’t believe it’s true,
What else is there for me to do?”

As the cherries fell into my basket, UB40 was soon joined by a list of other cherry touchstones. Neneh Cherry. And the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. And a vague memory of a Don Cherry from Canadian hockey broadcasting, and maybe one from jazz? Oh and Cherry Coke, and Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, and didn’t Cherry Lane Music publish Elvis?

Cherry oh, cherry oh, baby.
Cherry oh, cherry oh, baby.

The cherry tree in the corner of our back yard is exploding with fruit this year. It is by far the best crop we’ve had in the five years we’ve been in this house (apparently it’s a bumper crop all over the state). I love cherries, look forward to them every summer, and am happy to graze on them from a bowl within arm’s reach, pretty much continuously, throughout the few wonderful weeks when Washington’s cherries pop onto the market.

Life at the Tangled Nest is a bowl of cherries.
Life these days at the Tangled Nest is a bowl of cherries.

Claire and I have been having so many pit-spitting contests that the yard and garden paths are littered with pits and Lyanda finally put her foot down and insisted we use a pit bowl. We grumblingly comply when she is looking, though I feel pretty strongly that the restriction-free spitting of cherry pits and watermelon seeds is one of the great joys of summer.

Cherry Garcia. Erma Bombeck’s “If life is a bowl of cherries…” book. The cherry symbols on slot machines. Cherry bombs. As we enjoy lunch on the patio, we pit our pop-culture cherry knowledge against each other. Lyanda remembers Agent Cooper’s fondness for cherry pie, but my own Twin Peaks cherry memory stems more from Audrey Horne. Wow.

Say, wasn’t there a glam rock anthem, “Cherry Pie?” I can almost sing it, it’s there on the edge of my too-full pop culture memory bank, I picture red bikinis and big haired rockers in spandex, but it takes coming off the patio to the internet to remind me that it was a Warrant song, and to push “Cherry oh, baby” out of my head, replaced by even more inane lyrics (“Taste so good, make a grown man cry, sweet cherry pie”) and cheesy guitar riffs.

And then in that way that only the internet can, Warrant videos on YouTube lead to discovering that a band called Wild Cherry recorded the classic song “Play That Funky Music,” and it’s just a hop, skip, and Google jump from there to discovering that cherry tattoos are very, very popular. Lots and lots of cherry tattoos.


Mmmm, cherries. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what these nice folks are trying to express with their ink, but just like the slot machine cherries, I’m going to posit that it has something to do with getting lucky.

Cherries_150-0780We’re not sure what variety our cherries are. They are a textured light red color even when fully ripe, and plenty tasty but not overwhelmingly sweet (which makes them all the better for eating one after another after another all day long without stopping). If you have any thought on the variety, let us know. If you need a sample, stop on by, we have plenty.

(And we’d love your help in brainstorming more PG-rated cherry cultural references).

Originally Posted June 29, 2009.



  1. Nancy Stillger

    Wow! Brought a huge smile to my face!! My husband is sure to be able to add to your cherry cultural references (not my department)! Glad you have a bounty this year.

  2. Phil Evans

    Stones: “Can’t Always Get What You Want”, Mr Jimi’s ‘favorite flavor, cherry red’. Rhymes with ‘dead’–sex, violence, and rock and roll in a couplet. Drugs, as always, are implied if not mentioned by name.

  3. David Ruggiero

    “Cherry 2000” – Melanie Griffin’s first (?) feature film, wherein a guy travels the length of a post-apocalyptic USA to find a replacement clone for his malfunctioning sexbot. (Not a comedy, per se, though from that description you’d be forgiven if you thought so).

    Cherries jubilee – famous dessert supposedly invented by no less a personage than Auguste Escoffier himself.

    Don Cherry – renowned jazz trumpter.

    “Life is just a bowl of Cherries”…and of course a tip o’ the hat to Mary Engelbreit’s oft-reproduced card, “Life is just a chair of Bowlies”.

    Marc Cherry – creator, producer and head writer of “Desperate Housewives”.

    Need more?

  4. nici

    John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Cherry Bomb”:

    Laughin’, laughin’ with our friends
    Holdin’ hands meant somethin’ baby
    Outside the club, cherry bomb
    Our hearts were really thumpin’
    Say yeah yeah yeah
    Say yeah yeah yeah

    Eagle Eye Cherry’s “Save Tonight”…and didn’t Neil Diamond have a song called “Cherry, Cherry”?

    That’s about all I’ve got for now. I might be back…
    Great post!

  5. Gayle

    One of my more complicated memories of cherries is…the lovely summer evening that Seth and I (pre kids) were sitting on the back deck enjoing a luscious bowl of cherries from our tree. Half-way through the bowl we realized that every single cherry was home to a small white worm. Eeewww…turned us off cherries for a few seasons.

  6. Emily

    This is a little tangential, but one of my college roommates is named Cheryl and we used to call her Cherry (yes, she loved that), or Cherry baby, sometimes to the tune of Frankie Valli’s “Sherry baby.” And then there was the movie SherryBaby, with Maggie Gyllenhaal, which I never saw but I swear I *did* see Maggie (possibly just her doppelganger) in the S. Rainier Lowe’s over the weekend.

    Ooh, and the Ben and Jerry’s flavor, Cherry Garcia.

  7. David Ruggiero

    Tom, Lyanda – I didn’t plant the tree, but looking at the pictures and descriptions on the web, I’m thinking you may have a “Van”. Look around and see if you agree…and I’ll try to stop by for a sample sometime soon.

  8. lyanda

    Commenting on my own blog seems a little “meta,”
    but here’s another: Lakota Elder Black Elk named the July full moon “The Moon When Cherries are Ripe.” That will be July 7th this year.

  9. Our cherries are long since finished. I have a few in the freezer, but we all love cherries in this household so they don’t last long. And I always sing ‘Cherry ripe’, when I’m picking my cherries, being English!

  10. Hi there,
    I’m a photographer in SF working on an urban farm project. I came across your blog and it looks like you guys are doing really great things. I’m working on my Seattle list of contacts and I was hoping you might let me come photo your garden and interview you. I am hoping to turn it into a book. Can yo please let me know asap if you might be interested. Here’s a sample of my work…(you don’t have to buy, you can just preview)
    thanks so much,
    hope to hear from you soon…

  11. David Griffin

    When I was a kid my Dad had a good sized cherry orchard. My best friend Tom and I would sit in a tree, eat as many cherrries as we could, keeping all the pits in our mouths. When we could not hold any more pits we would spit them out, “machine gun” style. It was great fun. The cherries were probably covered with DDT from all the spray my Dad used but I am still here to remember it. This comment is just a tad late but I am catching up with “the Tangled Nest” in preparation for Lyanda’s essay class at the North Cascades Institute. I can’t wait.

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