Here it’s surinams that loudly display the insistence of spring. They arrive like the first few seconds of that Dvorak string serenade, beginning as a whisper and becoming a flood.
And then everybody and their cousins are out picking cherries.
And then everybody got a bowl of water soaking surinams.
And then everybody tearing out some recipes their granny used to make, recounting to re-memory to reappear surinam cherry cake, surinam leaf tea, surinam liqueur, surinam cherry jam.
Spring always has a way of reminding us to start anew. The year is already a quarter of the way through but we haven’t left the starting line. Spring is all, “hey look at these blooms” and “you smell that?” and “open your mouth, here are some sweet new things.”
…it’s like falling in love, everything is possible and gentle and no one shakes the tree too vigorously.
There are two young kids walking home from school: their starched white school shirts are askew, the young boy’s is smudged with brown and the tail of one side of the young girl’s has lifted from her skirt.
Both of their hands are full of cherries. They talk in between chewing and swallowing. The boy stuffs no less than eight cherries in his mouth and then smiles big, with teeth a slimy red. The girl laughs till buckling over and surrenders one cherry in her palm to pelt him. The boy tries to catch it in his mouth.
They’re out of sight within moments.
The Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora) is native to South America, commonly found from Guyana to Southern Brazil and Northern Uruguay. The Surinam Cherry was introduced to Bermuda as a garden plant, it became an invasive species due to the spread of seeds by Starlings (early 1900s) and Kiskadees (late 1950s.)
The Surinam Cherry is related to the native White Stopper (Eugenia monticola). The White Stopper having had to compete with the Surinam Cherry for growing space is now a rare species while the Surinam thrives.
The White Stopper has leaves that are robust and dull in comparison to the Surinam’s thin & shiny leaves. The White Stopper gives off a musky smell that doesn’t invite the pleasantries of the Surinam’s sweet, and the genus native to Bermuda doesn’t bear fruit as frequently.
Similarly the Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) is also an introduced species to Bermuda, having come originally to control Anolis lizards that were introduced to control fruit flies that were damaging local crops. The Kiskadee instead fed on the eggs of the native Bluebird and the endemic White-eyed Vireo and is rumored to be responsible for the extinction of the Bermuda Cicada.
Both the Surinam Cherry and the Kiskadee are widely considered as integral parts of Bermuda flora and fauna.
Both appear in Bermudian iconography and promotion.
Both exist in inexorable replacement.
Both thrive in spring.
- a surinam cherry tree can have many cherries or some or barely any
- they don’t all have to be red but when they are, they are blistering and brazenly red
- the others can be orange (bitter)
- or green (not ready)
- ants will always try to beat you to the punch of the saccharine
- some cherries have scars from bursting too soon.
I wonder if Neruda ever tried surinam cherries
there could be no other fruit that made the woman that fed the man that fell the garden
than the surinam
with its soft ribs holding cage of its seed
its plush red flesh
brays to teeth
of what else could Eve be borrowed and carved
and framed so famously for?
There are two cherry bushes near the house that my grandmother, brothers, and I all collectively own. The first one clings to the steep hill leading to my house; it’s also on the precipice of a mild cliff side. This is the tree I would pick from when I was almost home and needed the extra sugar boost to get over the hill with a 10lb backpack on my shoulder. The other one is at the bottom of the steep hill and it’s broad and long and shaped into a hedge. It’s been over fifteen years since I last climbed the hill to my house carting textbooks. Both trees still bear fruit.
Excerpt of Seasonal Playlist in iTunes titled “like Neruda cherry trees”
- "New Slang” by The Shins
- “Overtime” by Benjamin Booker
- “III. Telegraph Ave." by Childish Gambino
- “23” by Rejjie Snow
- “Avril 14th" by Aphex Twin
- “Ragged Wood" by Fleet Foxes
- “Grey Luh" by berhana
- “17" by Youth Lagoon
- “Kingfisher" by PHOX
There's something to be said about moving house in the spring. I moved out of my Minnesotan apartment at the start of March and back into the house I grew up in. Leaving frost and the unrelenting of winter for an island that seems to be swathed in a consistent temperament. Bermuda flirts with the extremities of the weather but never commits. We are tempestuous yes, for a time and balmy also for a time, but one can argue that it almost feels as if it’s always spring here. As if the trees readily blush of the presumption of fruit.
There’s something to be said about leaving home for home, as if there isn’t any leaving but somehow a constant returning.
to do what spring does to the cherry trees
to cherry spring to the trees
to what does spring cherries
to do what does
to spring to the what
to the trees do spring
& so on & so on & so on