Under the Old Cherry Tree
By Chris Rathbone
Under the Old Cherry Tree One weekend, several years ago, we had some of the worst wind we’ve had in a while here in these mountains. As the old saying goes; “Sounded like a freight train coming through the valley!” The loud gusty winds kept many awake through the night hours and many folks lost power due to downed trees.
My brother called me on Sunday morning that weekend to inform me that a tree had fallen on my parent’s house. We made plans to meet there after church to assess the damage it may have done. Fortunately and by God’s grace, only the top of the old cherry tree was lying upon the house. If the tree had fallen a little to one side or the other it could have caused some significant damage either to the house or a tool shed. Daddy and Mama got quite a rude awakening around 2 a.m. that morning. We all are very thankful that everyone was kept safe.
It’s been a while since I had looked at the old tree. It stood on the bank above my parent’s house at the edge of my grandmother’s old home place (That’s Mammie’s house for those of you who knew her). We were surprised at how large the tree had grown. Thinking about the old tree back in the days of my youth brought back many memories.
Mammie had placed an old large milk container in the forks of the tree for a little laying hen. The little hen would only allow Mammie to get the eggs. She would reach in and pick up the hen and cradle it in one arm. While she talked to the hen to calm it down, she gently reached in and retrieved the fresh eggs inside. The little hen never fussed much at all.
One fork of the tree grew out to the left and upward. We managed to get a rope swing on the large limb. There was a wooden board for a seat. Though the limb itself was only 10 or 12 feet off the ground, to a young boy it was very high! All of us grandchildren spent many hours playing and swinging under that cherry tree. Personally, I remember many times around dusk dark in the hot summer days, swinging slowly and letting my feet drag in the dry, dusty ground underneath the swing.
Not only did we swing in the old tree, but we climbed a lot too. In those days telling a boy not to climb a tree was like trying to tell a bear not to sleep in the woods. Boys and tree climbing were like peanut butter and jelly, they just went well together! The challenge each time we climbed was to see if we could get higher than we did the last time. The fear of being so high also brought the satisfaction of knowing you had conquered that fear and reached higher than ever! I still remember having trembling hands and a nervous stomach after climbing down. Even so, the next time we would try again.
In the years when the frost didn’t kill the bloom, the tree yielded some of the best-tasting cherries. When the cherries ripened we would climb and pick some to eat while playing. We helped Mammie pick cherries for cobblers and pies. The smell of those baking in the oven was one I’ll never forget. We often ate too many of the fresh cherries and got the “belly ache”, if you know what I mean! When it was about time for the cherries to start ripening, Mammie would sit on the porch with a shotgun and blast the blackbirds to keep them from getting her cherries. I don’t think she ever realized she was probably blasting more cherries out of the tree than blackbirds!
The old tree had provided food, shade in the summer, and a playground for us grandchildren. Now it will provide some firewood to Daddy and Mama after it seasons out. As we were cutting and cleaning up some of the old tree, I have to admit that a sad feeling sort of came upon me. Sad because the times that have passed can never be visited again except in our memories. It’s sad also that a lot of the family who made those memories so special aren’t with us now. Even though it’s sad in a way, God also reminds me to be thankful. Thankful that I had a family to love and that loved me. Thankful, that we had a Godly grandmother to set such an example of faith for us to follow. Thankful we have a Savior who gives us the hope of being reunited one day.
On the way over that day, I shared with my boys many of the memories I have of the old cherry tree. It’s amazing how God uses things from our past to bless us in the present. He even uses the memories that happened under an Old Cherry Tree. In Christ, Preacher Chris
Preacher Chris Rathbone is the former Pastor at Mine Creek Baptist Church and is now serving the Lord as needed while preaching the Gospel. You can read more Good Christian News from Pastor Chris HERE.
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