On a crisp winter’s morning, I gaze out over the Heatherwood landscape. I look over our immediate landscape to the hills surrounding our grounds. My eyes stop and become fixated on our neighbor’s beautiful cherry tree. It is the last standing memory of a bygone cherry orchard of the past.
We frequently walk by the tree on the way to pick up the mail. We stop and admire the tree throughout the year. Zelda, our neighbor’s Black Labrador, frequently greets us yearning for a pet.
Cherry trees in July look like they are in full April bloom when they are photographed in infrared. As I looked through the allee my mind imagined what our recently planted allee will look like in the future. This was a good insight with the old trees on the left and the relatively young trees on the right.
Our Heatherwood allee is quite different. It is planted on a hillside looking down to our lawn below. The center of the allee is planted with colorful perennials. Mary calls it her “bright and shiny spot.” On the top we have placed a couple “sitting” rocks to enjoy the view and the colorful flowers below.
I casually walked home through cherry orchard, taking my time and looking all around me. I looked up and saw this protrusion of Selah Ridge overlooking the orchard. I felt like it was a sentinel watching over the rows of trees getting ready to bloom. Blossoms should be emerging very soon. I will keep my eyes open so I can take another adventure through the blooming orchard.
As I take my walks, my eyes are wandering constantly. This branch on a cherry tree caught my attention. What kind of insect or disease could have caused this? Or could it have been artistically created by someone who was talented with a knife and a small carving chisel?
Looking down on this row of smudgepots from the old cherry orchard brought back many memories of my childhood. Sixty years ago, I can remember waking up to skies covered with smoke. A thin film of soot covered anything that was open. The soot could even seep in through cracks into our house. Walking outside I remember feeling the smoke in my lungs. These pots were used to produce heat to protect the spring flowering buds from frost. The oil-burning smudgepots were placed between the rows of trees to produce a warm bed of heat. Cherry trees were the most susceptible to the frost because they typically were the first to bloom in the Spring.
Smudgepot lighting was always a special time when I was old enough to work in the orchards. I can remember hanging out in Grandpa Brown’s bunk house with several other school buddies in an evening when a frost was expected. We were suppose to do homework, but that never happened. We would “horse around” and then try to catch a little sleep. When the temperature stated to drop, we would rush out and light the oil in the pots. We would then monitor the temperature until it rose above freezing. We would then rush back out and turn the pots off. After shutting down the pots we would go home and get ready for school. I left my oily and smoky clothes in the garage. I would shower and get dressed, then head down to school. Most of my school pants were white denims. It didn’t take long to get them covered with the soot left by a previous night’s smudging. After school, we would go back out to the orchards and refill the smudgepots to prepare for the next freeze.
Living out in the country is a wonderful opportunity to get out and explore. I have no excuse to feel “cooped up” inside the house. A 20 minute walk and I am above it all, overlooking an old cherry orchard, the valley below, and the gap to Yakima. How peaceful it is to just stand up on the hillside and observe the wonderful area where we live. In a short time, this orchard will be covered with white and pink blossoms. It is one of the few “old stands” of cherry trees around. Each year they remove a section and plant new trees. Hopefully this section will remain for several years to come.