Indigenous Farming

A Teacher of Post Settlement Language

The name’s inadequate: Choke Cherry. Wild cherry.

And “cherry”? Etymologically it might be from a lost language in Asia Minor. But, really, come on, it is a vocalization of the movement you must make to eat this round fruit in your mouth, around its hard pit.

And as for “choke”, it is a wild pear in England, a fruit in high tannins, that makes the mouth close up tight (ch), then open (o), and then spit it out, from the back of the mouth to the front (k). It is all tongue, it is. Besides, it’s a variant on ‘berry’, which is an expression of the opening of the lips to receive the fruit…except that this one includes “ch” or chewing, both physically and in the way one says that a wine is “chewy.”

Now, this acidity over sweetness, mellowed by cold and a ripening that can take 6 months, is also found in the bush itself, just not redesigned for a mouth experience and given away.

And as for slow ripening, this also includes drying out.

And just as the fruit hangs, so do the branches as the fruit pulls them down.

After all, they start vertically. The rest takes time.

Note below how the stems come directly out of the wood, as leaves do, with no intermediary structure. Choke cherries are, in other words, very specialized leaves, or wood approaching the state of a leaf, with all the components separated out into an open or full mouth: the removable stem, the hard core of wood which contains the germ of the tree, just as the wood contains the essence of the growing tree, and gloved in complex, bitter tannins over a sweet base.

What, then, would be a better name for this wise one? “Stalk that ripens mouths”? After all, do we not watch it and salivate a bit in anticipation? Does it not teach us the taste of the land? Or maybe “Long Ripener”? What other fruit can hang on the tree and ripen over 6 months, with a different flavour every week of this journey? Your turn.

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