Cherry Picking in July

Each year, seasonal produce and blooming flowers gently mark the passing of time for me in Provence. Persistent, crimson poppies celebrate my arrival. Plump strawberries and crème fraîche fill my market basket when the nights are still cool and the fields vibrant green from spring rains. Ripe, juicy cantaloupe appear on roadside stands around the same time the fields wash aglow with fragrant lavender under an unrelenting summer sun. Apples, crisp and perfectly paired with 12-month aged Comté, bid my farewell as fall winds hint at quiet evenings around a fireplace with red wine.

And somewhere, gracefully balanced between the poppies and apples is the cherry. There’s really something quiet magical about plucking red globes of juicy sweetness off of a tree. When they’re ripe, I find every excuse possible to get off my bike and duck into the orchard, especially along the road from Saint Didier to Venasque. Luckily, I didn’t have to sneak them on this wonderful evening in July.

Our gracious British hosts, Dan and Lucy, threw a mid-summer pool party and barbecue, complete with an impromptu cherry-picking extravaganza. I might have been the only participant who ate as many cherries as I picked, but that really didn’t matter. I was among lovely friends, and we were all taking in the perfect evening, the setting sun, the sweetness that only summer in Provence can bring.

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