A farmer who hopes to avenge his defeat to wildlife in the previous year prunes cherry trees.
I have a letter from Yamagata prefecture, dated June 3rd last year regarding the cherry picking event’s cancellation. I remember hearing from the representative Itagaki over the phone, his voice sounding gloomy, unlike his usual lively disposition.
Dewa Shonai Tokusan, known for rice farming is also highly rated for their cherry farms and have many admirers. The cherry is a staple ingredient at a well known local restaurant and a number of young women from Tokyo and Osaka often come to the cherry farm in late June. Farmers can prune the branches before rice planting preparation time begins and can hang across vinyl sheets on the greenhouse after the rice has been planted, thus making their tasks perfectly timed. In the harvesting season, the neighborhood women come together and help with the selection and packing of cherries.
Well, as for the cherry.
Last year, in spite of the old father’s reminder about the harmful crows, he witnessed the unfortunate scene of his proud cherries damaged, eaten and littered by the crows. He recounted this to the Italian restaurant that evaluates his cherries and informed my company about this incident.
The previous letter included a few photos that showed cherries devoured by a crow and the garden with cherries scattered. Since the farm started cherry planting 30 years ago, this was the first time to suffer such a disaster. A local person said there wasn’t enough food for the crows in the highland so they came to the cherry farm. Itagaki was a little late in hanging across the vinyl sheets on the greenhouse and thus causing the damage.
You could say it was a blessing in disguise. He was able to focus all his effort on the rice farming instead and fortunately, it was an abundant harvest. Thanks to this, the farm did not suffer financial crisis.
However, he couldn’t meet the expectations of many customers and had to apologize for their failure, give refunds to customers who paid in advance. He was preoccupied with these heartbreaking tasks in the early summer of last year.
This February, with the new and definite resolution of this year, Itagaki climbed the cherry tree in his garden like a wild monkey. Before the fruit starts to grow big, he prunes the extra branches to allow the nutrients to flow into the vital parts of the tree. Usually the snow is waist-deep but this year, it was only 50 cm deep. Still, just walking in the snow is hard work as it is. The snow reflects the light as he continues pruning till after sunset, with the gleam shining over him making it easier to see.
From Tokyo far away from Yamagata, we pray for the success of his cherry farm.