THURSDAY MORNING COFFEE – Furry, brazen cherry thieves



See those cherries? All gone. The tree is robust and brimming with health. Every April, I enjoy the white cherry blossoms. Every May, I watch the little green balls of fruit swell with promise, thinking,

“This year I’ll do it. I’ll cover this tree, or hang bells on it, or something – just so there’s enough fruit for a sour cherry pie.”

Then June rolls around. Those green balls, fat and juicy, blush orange and then red, wave after wave.

And wave after wave, the birds come.

I used to yell at them, but they didn’t mind me.

I tried barking, but they figured it was just me, and besides, dogs don’t climb trees, so why bother? Only my teenage daughters disappeared inside, cringing with embarrassement.

I meowed like a wildcat. That scared them off – for a while.

The neighbors tried not to stare, and not to laugh, but I could tell my agrarian efforts became something of an entertainment in the neighborhood.

I cawed like a crow. That was the best – the birds scattered off the tree, leaving the pecked fruit behind – but then they came back. Did you know the human throat is ill-equipped to caw like a crow? It’s impossible to keep it up. My throat hurt, and I had to let the birds enjoy their spoils of war.


Maybe one of those air-guns with plastic pellets would do it, I thought as I was weeding a patch of overgrown greenery by the driveway. And under those weeds, I found a stash – a HUGE STASH – of cherries.

No robin or blackbird would make a cache of stolen fruit. I straightened up and rubbed my back as I looked around. There’s a new stone wall across the driveway. My husband built it so I could garden, and I planted strawberries and daylilies and herbs.

We didn’t get many strawberries. The hollow block of the wall turns out to be an ideal home for chipmunks, and the strawberry patch is their pantry.

Fat, fuzzy, brazen rodents. Cute, too, but that’s cold comfort when you find the best strawberries harvested by chipmunks, lined up on the wall as though out of spite, and quality-controlled with their little teeth.

Good thing I can buy strawberries on sale, I thought, but what about the cache? Are my precious cherries – and mind you, I haven’t given up on the pie idea yet – dropping? Did they get some fungal disease?

Two days later, I saw it with my very own eyes. I pulled into the driveway and chanced to glance at the cherry tree.

And they were there. Two fat, striped, brazen little chipmunks with their long tails and twitchy noses. They disregarded the flock of birds entirely as they ran up the trunk and into the branches. I watched in amazement as they stuffed their stretchy cheeks with fruit – with my fruit – and ran back down to the ground, to their new, secret pantry.

Well, I’ll be!


Maybe next year. Next year, I’ll get huge tree nets to cover the bottom of the trees – all the way to the trunk. The birds can have the top where I can’t reach, but the bottom will go to that sour cherry pie. And I’ll put an upside-down cone on the trunks to keep the chipmunks away. They will have to make do with the strawberry patch.

This year, I’ll cut up and sew the green tulle I bought at the fabric store, and cover up my red currant bushes. They hang heavy with cluster of green fruit, and I know that as soon as they even turn pink, the flock of birds will move to the back of the house. Ready to feast on my red currants – my fruit – despoiling the bushes I planted several years ago.

I’m off to sew. I’ll finish writing my book later.

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