I Feel Alive by Jackie Parry
Living as nomads creates the most marvellous memories – but the best fun-times are free, unplanned, and make you feel alive!
Along the canals near Buzet Sur Baise in SW France, cherry trees hang heavy with plump fruit. So many adorn the cycle paths that even the birds can’t keep up, and thousands of ripe cherries tumble to the ground to rot. Rotund birds with red-stained beaks turn a lazy eye to the rouged path.
With our buddy, Lorna from Motor Vessel (MV) Sunflower, we peddled off one crisp, blue veiled Sunday morning clutching bags, buckets, and boat hooks – blinkered on the task ahead.
‘Just around the corner,’ was the next best tree, which meant many kilometres later, but the sun was out and we had no appointment to keep. The tree had to meet certain criteria:
- Cerise and swollen bunches of cherries decorating the branches
- Not in a private garden
At the first tree, we dithered and stuffed about. It was impossible to grip the gnarled, straight, branchless-bottom of the trunk. Noel soon lost patience and cycled off to find ‘a better tree’. Meanwhile, Lorna leant against the tree and said, ‘right you, climb on my shoulders and get up there!’
She’s a tough chick, Lorna, and didn’t groan too much beneath my chunky boots, hefty weight, and brick-layer elegance.
Up I went, higher and higher, the bucket and my tummy filled quickly. My fingers turned scarlet, my lips glowed ruby and smudged. Lorna picked up cherries that missed the container and snagged lots more via the boat hook.
I lowered the bulging bucket and paused for a moment. I realised I was grinning. At forty-four I didn’t expect I’d be hoisting my middle-aged body into the welcoming cradle of a tall, proud tree, and I’d forgotten what fun it is; you can’t think of the world or your worries, you have to concentrate on what each hand and foot is doing. You become removed from ‘normal’ life with your own unique view, and you are hunting and gathering – back to basics!
After what felt like hours, I climbed down utilising my human ladder (thank you Lorna), and cycled off to find Noel. My head was crammed full of images of finding him at the bottom of a tree with a broken leg, but I was still beaming with exuberance.
Several kilometres later, as I was just about to turn back, I spied his bike; with a shrill ‘coooo eeeee’ I received a reply, from thirty feet up in the air.
Noel found his ideal tree and was merrily playing monkey with a full bucket of cherries and a big grin.
‘Thank you,’ Noel said to his tree as he carefully climbed down.
‘That was brilliant, so quiet and peaceful within the arms of nature.’ I smiled back at him, such simple moments are to be treasured.
Noel and I morphed back to our childhood; up in the limbs of the tree you could almost hear the children’s squeals of summer joy that we both cherish from our youth.
That was a few months ago and we are still all eating sweet cherry jam and tart chutney (better known as ‘sauce’ as it is a little runny) – but it's all so incredibly yummy.