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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Cherry Festival to Remember

Over the weekend I went to my dear friend Jennifer Clark's 148-acre farm and winery http://www.cobblestonefarmwinery.com/index.html in Romulus, New York, for the 9th Annual Cherry Festival. Jen and her fiance, Bob, host a wonderful event every year that includes vendors selling their arts and crafts, food, hayrides, a live band, games for kids, a raptor exhibition, SPCA "adopt-a-pet" booths, wine offerings in the beautiful tasting room, and the picking of cherries by the visiting public in the magnificent orchard. Sadly, because of all the rain we've had in New York State this spring, the cherries weren't quite ripe, so my and friend Mark's job, as volunteers, was to shoo eager cherry lovers out of the orchard to the vendor booths and tasting room, and encourage them to come back again in a week or so when the cherries hit their peak.

Saturday was a perfect hot and sunny day. Throngs of people attended the festival, and while many were disappointed that they were unable to set up ladders and fill buckets with cherries, everyone had a wonderful time partaking in other activities. Sunday was another beauty, though hotter with a hazy sky. Mark and I left early, around 11 a.m., at which point all at the farm was as it should be, still with no one atop ladders reaching high for cherry tree fruit. God, as the saying goes, works in mysterious ways.

Two hours after we left, a storm cell moved over the orchard. Rain fell lightly at first, then started coming down in earnest. The wind picked up. And up. Thunder rumbled, then started crashing. Vendors and staff alike headed for the tasting room, or for their cars, to wait out the microburst. Below is an excerpt from Jennifer's description of the weather event:

"Starting about 1:30, we experienced a severe storm with rain, hail, thunder, lightning, and damaging winds. I'm still looking for a report on the wind speed; I've never seen anything like it, except on TV. Mother Nature's beating was intense and long; it seemed to go on until about 3:30 or 4:00. The guests and vendors took shelter on the porch, in the tasting room, in the winery, and in the kitchen. They were packed in like sardines. Those who couldn't make it to the building made it to their cars to ride it out. The band salvaged a guitar, stood in a little circle in the tasting room and sang for the crowd as we watched the destruction outside. It was like a scene out of Titanic. Tents, tables, and merchandise were destroyed, the band's equipment, sound system, and two cars were damaged, one broken or dislocated finger, a toppled pergola, an uprooted cherry tree, and flooding with damage inside and out."

Included here are photos of the aftermath. I can't help but think what catastrophe might have occurred if the orchard had been full of hundreds of children and parents and grandparents picking cherries on what they thought would be a mild Sunday afternoon. Instead, the orchard was empty because the fruit wasn't quite ripe...clearly, a blessing in disguise.

Incidentally, the tent under which I worked over the weekend ended up yards away...in a cherry tree. 

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About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum