The shadblow along the east fence is slender and unassuming for an ornamental. It has only reached twelve feet or so in height since I planted it many years ago, on Bill Heard's recommendation, in the shade of the neighbor's bur oak. But it seems happy there, and Bill was a good plantsman so he knew it would be. Twice a year it announces itself, albeit with more modesty than flash: first in April when it blooms with pale white blossoms, an indication to the Native Americans of 'when the shad are running'; and then in June when the small berries ripen-- they are called serviceberries, as is the tree sometimes, and they make a good pie.
I almost always miss the ripening event-- perhaps because we tend to be out of town in parts of June? or maybe because the critters quickly strip the bounty so it's a narrow window; but also because the berries are small enough that they disappear from a distance. blending with leaves under the dappled shade. Carol was the one to notice the berries just today, mostly because there happened to be a critter rustling around high in the branches, feasting away. This critter turned out to be a ground squirrel, belying its name, and it gave me the idea that it would be fun to join in the harvest.
The ground squirrel left abruptly as I arrived with a colander. Even after tugging down the upper branches (a convenient feature of this slender shrubby tree) to gather the high-up ripe ones, I only got about a cupful. Carol tells me it takes six cups for a pie, so instead I'll probably just have them with yogurt in the morning.