Picking cherries and baking pies in rural Romania. Doesn’t it sound idyllic? Oh, no? Then you probably haven’t picked cherries before. Or apples. Or olives. Or fallen leaves. Or maybe you just can’t find that space in your head that goes “Oh yeah, cherry picking, bring it!”. Or, you know, you never set your mind on traveling to Romania. Maybe you’ve never even seen it on the map. No worries. I hadn’t heard of Kehena Black Sand beach on Big Island Hawaii, then one day someone posted a photo on Facebook. And that was it. Instant love forever. And probably some traveling to the Big Island in the near future.
Romania. Southeastern Europe, Carpathians, DADAist Tristan Tzara, Sculptor Constantin Brancusi, Monarchy of Queen Mary, Monarchy of King Michael I, the land of vineyards and orchards and grains, heavy winters in the mountains, mild summers by the Black Sea, unimaginable stories of cultural bereavement and hardship followed by blatant resiliency, creativity and innovation that outsmarts more than half of the west. There’s a certain ruggedness to the way these people talk, something in their voice that shuts your mouth and puts tears in your eyes, while you’re just standing there, listening. It’s like their long history of upheaval and limbo turns into one drop of sacred oil, which drips and drips, into every cup of coffee, every piece of pie, every “Good morning!” and every “Good night baby”. A real-time Cornucopia, of relief, joy, greetings, and of course local foods and drinks and sweets that can put your mouth to silence. Again.
5 reasons why rural Romania is the go-to place for picking cherries
1. Because, for one thing, this is what Romanian cherry trees look like when they start to bloom.
2. Because cherry blossoms in Romania are nothing like cherry blossoms in Japan.
I mean literally. Sure, because well Romania is Europe and Japan is Asia, but truly because you don’t expect to witness such explosion of beautiful imagery and the smell, oh my, the smell..in a country that is in fact not renowned at all for its cherry experience. I for one, have never had a magazine calling me up for a “Cherry Blossom in Romania” feature, neither has any of my friends surprised me with an invitation to check out Romanian cherry season. You see what I mean? Do you see the magic? Do you feel the thrill?
3. Because rural Romania is your real dream world, a world that shows you effortlessly what it feels like to live for today.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a huge respect for the legacy of ancestors, and you can feel this admiration permeating the space within each home, but somehow these people work their lands and harvest their fruit and vegetables like there’s no tomorrow. It’s like “whatever I can do today to help this seed grow within its own timeline, I will do it. Whatever I can do to help this cherry tree blossom richly, I will do it. I can’t control the rains that will blow away the blossoms, I can’t control the wind that will destroy the pistils, the birds that will be eating my cherries once they’ve grown. What I can do is the most that I can do”. And that’s it. That’s it, internet!
4. Because, travelers, allow me to ask.
What is it you’re looking for? A sweet sweet fantasy? A story with no beginning and no end? The feeling that you’re walking and dreaming at the same time? The novelty of the exotic? The exotic of novelty? Maybe you’re looking for something to just sweep you off your feet, and, well, girlfriend just doesn’t cut it no more? Oh..maybe a sense of danger? A bull to grab by the horns? The sunrise of one sweet day? Separateness? Togetherness? Some kind of utopia, to subtract you out of the known and throw you into the wild? Sounds abstract, I know, but really lean your ear towards the echo of your own desire, and read these words: No matter what it is that you’re looking for, dude, chances are you’re gonna find it across the Romanian hills, waving at you and sending out its siren song. And I say, go. Just go. Leave everything that is less than pleasureful to you and start living your life man.
5. Because once the cherry trees start bearing fruit, they’ll be looking like this.
My mouth is watering, I don’t even know how I’m going to manage finishing up this story about picking cherries in Romania. I mean look at this tree. Look at these cherries, how perfect and majestically they grow and grow and grow. And funny thing, there’s always some random ray of light that somehow hits just the right angle and lights up the entire tree like a Christmas tree, only this tree is still grounded within fertile soils. And then you get there, underneath the cherry tree, you look above, amazed at the grandiose view that no watercolors and no master painter could ever reproduce, and your lips start syncing words that just slide out, they just flow, because that’s the only capability your body can still sustain. “Wow..can this become even more mind-shattering? Just leave me here, let me be. I’ve found the truth”. And the truth is yeah, the whole scene does become even more viscerally contagious.
Because there will always be a lady, a grandmother a mother a daughter, that will look at you as you’re bathing in this magnificence of a cherry tree and say “And now we’re gonna make a cherry pie”. And you’re standing there, already blown away, you take your eyes away from this canvas of infinite red and green, and onto the lady’s candid smile and in your head there’s only one little thing that still manages to sprout out of your mystified thoughts: “I know nothing, Jon Snow”.