Cherries and Chekhov

So what’s the fascination with cherries and Anton Chekhov? Well, I happen to love them both and I recently read a quote from Chekhov himself about cherries.

“I am going away soon, so at the moment am doing nothing except wandering round the garden and eating cherries. I pick twenty at a time and stuff them all into my mouth at once.” (From a letter to Nikolay Leikin, July 4, 1897, Melikhovo)

It makes perfect sense, if you think about it, that Chekhov would gorge himself on cherries as well as life. He died of tuberculosis at only 44 yet he wrote hundreds of short stories and several plays (“The Cherry Orchard” is one of them). He also, and doesn’t this make you wonder what you do with all your time, worked as a physician.

Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Pet Dog” is easily one of the most perfect short stories ever written. Its characterization, easy-tell-it-to-a-friend kind of style, and ragged yet satisfying ending are a model for me. He joins my bookcase along with William Trevor, Flannery O’Connor, and Shirley Jackson and poets such as Jane Kenyon and Charles Simic for my “go-to” authors.

And yes, I adore cherries. Always have. I’m a little jealous of the Russian climate for the fact that sour cherries grow there in abundance. I’m not envious of the harsh weather, however, and cross my fingers that our own little Montmorency tree will thrive and one day produce enough that I can stuff them into my mouth at once. 🙂

Until then, when I’m not writing, you’ll find me making jam with cherries I pick in someone else’s orchard or with raspberries and strawberries we grow ourselves.

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