Fruit in the city


Cherry trees! They must more than 7 years old to be fruiting like this.

On my run today through our neighborhood and out into the park behind it, I passed ripening cherries on the trees in our courtyard and a whole thicket of raspberries, pale pink for now and soon to be ripened to soft red.

The raspberries weren’t a surprise; I’ve run past those thickets many times. But the cherries were; I don’t see sweet cherries here that often, and if I do see cherries, I think they are usually the tart kind.

Cherry trees need temperate climates — I think of picking sweet cherries as a child from the tree in our backyard in Central California. Hot weather (and cold winters) makes for sweet stone fruit: nectarines and apricots, plums and peaches. I don’t think of those as Swedish crops. Maybe tart or sour cherries. But definitely more northerly berries thrive here: raspberries and blueberries, blackberries and hjortron (cloudberries).

However, it’s been hot here lately, hotter than any summer I’ve ever experienced in Stockholm. Day after day, the highs have been about 20°C (70°F) and sometimes more. It’s even been stickily humid here the past few days, with thunderstorms and showers — nowhere close to Minnesota or DC summer weather, where one needs to take a shower twice a day, but a nice change from the cold and rainy summers I’ve had here the past few years.

Maybe it’s climate change. Maybe it’s El Niño. I will not complain too much for the moment as I enjoy this warmer weather.

And wow, maybe I can enjoy some local sweet cherries! I’m trying to figure out the best time for picking them. Not too soon, before they ripen, but not too late either, after our neighbors or the birds figure out they are there.

These fruits are free to the public — growing on public pathways, there for the taking. I think this is part of allamansrätten, every man’s right, to camp on other people’s lawns if they aren’t bugging them, and to go into the woods to collect wild mushrooms, blueberries, strawberries and other forest finds.

Swedes have what they call their “wild strawberry places,” or smullstronställe, which is a place where they are happy. Ingmar Bergman made a movie of the same name too, but I assume the term comes from Swedes’ favorite berry patches — they tend not to share those locations, whether for forest picking and their psychologically happy places, I suspect. These are secrets.

My secret will be staying home in the city during the part of the summer that the cherries are ripe, while everyone else is out in the countryside, hanging out in their lilla stuga på landet (little houses in the land). I’ll try to report back if my cherry picking is successful!


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