About twenty years ago Neil and I moved downtown together from Washington Heights into a small one bedroom apartment on Second Avenue just around the corner from 19th street. We moved one Spring day and I remember thinking how lovely and quiet the neighborhood was. So unlike the Height which were still pretty rough and kind of grim in those days. Our new part of town was a kind of no man’s land north of the East Village and many blocks east of Gramercy Park – even though during our 13 years living there, real estate agencies started to call the entire neighborhood from First Avenue over: “Gramercy”.
I walked up and down 19th street between First and Second almost every day, but it wasn’t until late Summer that I noticed this small tree, growing in front of a quaint, small townhouse on a plot of land so small it might as well be growing between the cracks of the sidewalk. One day as I turned the corner I could see bright red cherries hanging from every branch. This was a sour cherry tree! It occurred to me on many occasion during this time to purchase a ski mask and come in the middle of the night to “liberate” these tasty, tart, fruits, but I never did. As far as I could tell from the 13 years I lived around the corner this tree was totally left to its own devices: I never saw it being watered or trimmed or harvested.
My hope is that the owners of the building waited till the fruit was at its ripest before picking this amazing cooking cherries. So sour and practically inedible from the branch, but with some sugar and a little cooking I don’t think there is anything better to make a pie or crumble from.