When I got Splinter he was, well, a splinter, a nearly leafless two-foot specimen of, so said his label, American Black Cherry in a battered plastic pot at the end of the garden center sale table. He was nine-ninety-nine, plus tax. It is dangerous to walk past that sale lineup; it’s like an animal rescue. You feel sorry for something, and take it home.
“I don’t know if it’ll live,” said my gardener David, who can’t do anything without talking me to death first. I have learned to turn him into white noise and go about my mental business, and in due time he got Splinter into the earth; it was mid-October of 2002.
After three years he put out some tentative blooms. Two years ago he fruited. He turned out to be, not a black cherry tree, but a Prince Rainier. You see them in the market sometimes, six or seven dollars a punnet, blushing over yellow flesh. This is the first year they have been plump enough for anyone but the birds to eat.
I have been running around the earth having all sorts of alarums and excursions in those ten years, getting dumped, dabbling in politics, finding a new gentleman friend, writing crap mystery novels, but I sometimes wonder if I have made anything like as good use of the time as Splinter has.