Whenever I smell rotting cherries I think of Peachland, BC. I think of a very specific scene.
A gaggle of kids trip bear footed along the shore. There are five or six of them. They smear cherries on their skin, as if from a fatal wound. The cool water washes the blood away. Pebbles stick in between wet toes, and the smell of cherry juice fills the air.
In our group you were respected if you could go without shoes. The tougher you could get your feet, the better. There were a lot of black feet when, at my cousin’s acreage, the well-water ran out. Putting a sprinkler under the trampoline and building a water-slide might have been a little excessive.
I would have been seven or eight, and I was vacationing with my Dad, his girlfriend and her daughter, and the rest of the Storvold family. As expected, I was homesick without my Mom. I called her whenever I could. I remember curling up on my Aunt’s lap to tell her how sad I was. There is the possibility that I missed out on a lot of my childhood because I was waiting for things to happen. I may still be like this.
That was the last time we would all be together. Sad that I missed it, right?
It’s difficult to write about this because I was so young. I remember my cousin, Wade, lying facedown on the floor because he was so tired.
Late at night (it probably wasn’t that late), we would sit underneath a tree with the light from the kitchen window on our backs. We would parody kid’s shows. I believe the older kids went off to play cards. That’s funny because my “step-sister”, who was an older kid, would spend the night crying beside me because she missed her mom who was in the next room.
My point is, I wish that there hadn’t been any age segregation.
Parodying really isn’t that strange, comparatively. We also used to put on plays. It was mostly the kids jumping around on the trampoline with the adults spread around in lawn chairs. Occasionally we would act out Lord of the Rings. There is a photo of me in a red wagon pretending to fish — that must indicate my role as Sméagol. The last play was centred on World War II. It might have been a little heavy. No one was left standing.
For one of the plays we also stole the adult’s beer only to sell it back to them for two dollars. I’m really quite surprised none of us became entrepreneurs.
After the vacation I found out that my cousin Wade had Leukaemia.
He passed away when I was eight or nine. More significantly, he was fifteen.
The memory of the cherry tree is when I can see Wade the clearest (other than the time when he and the older cousins would push us down Grandma’s basement stairs on couch cushions).
As I’m writing this I’m thinking, what if my memory doesn’t line up with the other’s? What if one of my cousins reads this only to discover that I’ve gotten it all wrong.
I’m sorry if I have.