What is it about some things – as in actual items – that make us happy, that bring us a certain kind of pleasure? Is it that they may be aesthetically pleasing? Or that they may bring back memories of a certain time, place, or person? Whatever it is, it’s pretty neat. I’ve been thinking lately more about wonder cabinets and the idea behind collecting things and keeping them for ourselves. But then there are the things we love that we see in all kinds of places in and around the world, and we don’t take them or keep them but we observe and remark and smile at the sight of them, for one reason or hundreds, or for no real explanation at all – except we feel some sort of affinity for them and not much more matters than that.

For a long time, my “thing” has been cherries. Since I was 12 or 13, I’ve been collecting all things cherry – I even had a ‘cherry shrine’ in our old house, a shelf in my room adorned with cherry things that I had collected or been given over the years: candies, key chains, napkins, candles, cards, a chic-looking bottle of cherry liqueur, soap, lotion, picture frame, a place mat, drawings, jewelry.. the list goes on. (NOTE: A few days after writing this, my best friend from the year I lived in Carlisle, PA, Julie Frost, wrote to me saying she had read my blog and had found a small error: my fun obsession with cherries was apparently already well-established by the time I moved to PA and met Julie, who remembers my adoration of all things cherry very well. I laughed out loud when I read that!) :)

What is it about cherries? Well, I don’t know exactly. There’s the obvious – they’re cute, red, and grow on trees. They remind me of summer. They’re delicious. And I like their little stems. I love when I’m out with friends and family, and if we’re having sundaes or drinks, some generous soul almost always offers me their maraschino :) And did you know the second most popular variety of cherry is called Lambert? How close to perfect.

For some reason, I find that cherries go along with the word jubilant. I just know they’re the most rambunctious of the berry family; fun, playful, probably a little on the daring side. And you never find a cherry just by itself; you’ll always find tons together, whether on a tree, in a bin at the grocery store, or just in a simple bowl on a kitchen table.

outdoor market in athens

Well, enough personification. My cherry shrine didn’t make it to Elon, although a beautiful painting my good friend Kiersten painted for me does hang beautifully on the wall of my bedroom in my apartment there. And I have a fantastic cherry apron relatives sent me for my birthday last year hanging in my kitchen. (I love that I still receive ‘cherry’ presents from a lot of my relatives on my birthday and Christmas!) But while seeing cherry knick-knacks and snacking on the little sweet things still brings me a unique sort of pleasure, lately I’ve been intrigued by another natural wonder: leaves.

their range of color, shape, and size is enormous. the way they’re easy to watch in mid-air, enjoying the in-between and never rushing their way down. at the whim of the wind and trees. maple, deciduous, conifer, light, veins. ones as big as my outstretched palm. are they like snowflakes, in that no two are exactly alike? saturday mornings spent raking and piling, only to jump in and play and then rake and pile again. damp and dirty. dry and brittle with that satisfying CRUNCH. a leaf’s relationship with its tree, breathing, hanging above roots and falling next to its trunk. their symbolism, their ephemeral nature. autumn. seasons of change. falling, but moving on.

Though a tree grows so high, the falling leaves return to the root.

Malay proverb

I can get pretty wildly enthusiastic about little things, which might explain my adoration of cherries, leaves, the smell of coffee, sunflowers, globes, playing on playgrounds, and the like. But I know I’m not the only one who has a “thing” for certain things, and I’m so curious about those, about what objects or small pleasures out there bring smiles to the faces of my friends and family. Some I know, some I’m sure I don’t. But, well, that’s what I’m wondering about today. And I’m glad I get to enjoy lots of cherries this summer, and in just a few months, fresh and restless leaves in a U.S. state that does autumn pretty darn well.

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