Light Notes

My cherry tree a natural safety net

The cherries on our lone tree are almost ripe, and we've got our eye on them.

So do the birds.

This is the same scenario we face year after year as we ponder the question: Who is going to get to them first?

So far, it's the birds, 30 out of the past 33 years. The first three years, we didn't own a cherry tree.

I've often wondered what it would be like to savor a fresh Bing picked ripe from the tree, to feel the crunch between my teeth, to taste the juice as it trickled down my throat. I doubt that I'll ever know, at least not at our house.

When you're the only "fruit stand" within 20 acres or so, you can bet there'll be some competition. But I was surprised to hear that the robins, starlings and sparrows might be causing a problem in town.

"I've got to help hoist a net over a cherry tree," Bill called to me as our neighbor drove into our driveway. "It shouldn't take too long."

The truck kicked up gravel as they sped on their way to their good deed, helping an elderly man protect his cherries. Most likely, he has a wife who intends to "put them up" for the winter, saving some money by doing so.

I suppose we should try to defend our meager crop, too. But in some ways, I have a soft spot in my heart for the birds.

Every morning when I'm out for my walk, long before most people have hit the snooze button, the various birds are out at first light searching for food. I've seen a huge hawk dive into a field for breakfast and a robin search determinedly for a worm. They have young to feed this time of year, as well as themselves. What they bring to the table is literally the difference between life and death.

So, I guess if we can make their life a little easier, let them rest in the shade of our tree and nibble on a cherry or two, it's the least we can do. At times, everyone - even a tiny bird - can use a safety net.