A Sunday Drive to Pick Cherries in Brentwood, California

They say, these hot shot song writers and idiom abusers, that life is just a bowl of cherries. I disagree.

Cherries are more than bowl decoration. These drupes package the thrill of the hunt, getting outdoors, and indulgence into a tart sweet taste that is also an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C.

For something so wonderful, it’s important to consume in moderation. No more than one pound per sitting, and no more than one berry per three picked fresh from the tree. Break these guidelines and be prepared for the explosive consequences.

But before I get to the cherries, a few photos:

Since I don’t have a video game console, my only pride and joy is these tomatoes.

Our tomatoes plants have grown really tall. For a sense of scale, J stands next to them. Note: J is 8 feet tall.

The goop that makes the yellow lines on the road.

A rainy Saturday.

It has been a long process, but I feel on the verge of making a breakthrough in teaching the typewriter to open the blinds.

A menacing sunset at Lands End.

J and her imaginary laundry.

On Sunday, despite the looming rain clouds, J and I drove to Brentwood. This formally sleepy agricultural town in the East Bay farming delta is quickly converting to sad and unsustainable suburban developments. The corn, peaches, and most importantly cherries, are getting crowded out. It’s like a sweaty armpit getting clogged up by more and more antiperspirant.

Our drive took us along the water through small, mostly industrial towns. These are sad feeling towns, and the rain didn’t help.

An abandoned hothouse complex.

A shanty boat repair facility in Crocket near the Carquinez Bridge.

Just a stack of boats and Crocket’s pimp car.

A trustworthy business.

The massive, functioning C&H Sugar Mill looms over the river.

Another view of the brick building.

All the mailboxes in the small “town” of Port Costa.

The jungle restaurant.

A patch of light gives hope to a golden hillside.

A roadside couch and dummy legs.

The road to Brentwood.

Due to the bad weather and muddy roads, many of the cherry farms were closed to the public. We stopped at one anyway just to see. The Volvo fishtailed in the mud until we came to a nice stopping place between a corn field and grove of cherry trees. We sampled with gusto like kids in a candy store where the walls and roof of the store are missing and the candy bins are replaced with fruit-laden cherry trees.

We drove further down the road, our tires flinging clods of mud.

One stand was open, and it was packed. For $2.50/pound, we got to picking and sampling. Our haul was 6.5 pounds, plus one additional pound each in our colons.

Field of dream corn.

A muddy drive to a closed u-pick cherry farm left our tires and shoes coated with mud and straw. We ate our fill of cherries from the branches hanging over the fence.

An aisle of fruit.

Dripping with nearly ripe fruit.


My shoes acquired a healthy sole of mud.

Harvesting butts.

Another shot of a tree dripping with fruit.

Cherry Bing: “Could these bee any more hives?”

One pound of sweet, sweet garbage.

A crop of red onions brings tears to my eyes.

Our 6.5 pound payload.

Scenery on the road home.

J walking away from the mine, James Bond style.

On the drive home, my throat felt sore.

Was it from eating all fruit? Pesticides? A coincidental cold?

I hope it’s all three.

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June 6th, 2011. Categories / Bay Area

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