One of my favorite French expressions has long been “les temps des cerises”—the time of cherries.
When I lived in Paris, lo these twenty years past—shops and restaurants would trumpet early summer as “le temps des cerises.” Homemakers I knew would bring cherries back from market, arrange them artfully in a bowl, and announce, “Voilà, c’est le temps des cerises.”
More than just a seasonal observation, “le temps des cerises” is a national evocation of the fleeting nature of youthful pleasure; sweet, sunny moments too quickly gone. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
So when these beautiful, delicious organic cherries appeared today at Whole Foods, my thought was, “Voilà, c’est le temps des cerises.”
What I didn’t realize until I looked it up just now is that the phrase is the title of a mid-19th-century song about young people picking cherries, cherries falling as “drops of blood” on the grass, and the “chagrins d’amour”—heartbreaks—that youth and reverie bring.
Nor did I know that the songwriter dedicated his song several years later to a nurse killed in the Paris Commune uprising of 1871.
Whether you know French or not, here is a sad and dreamy version of the song as it was later popularized by Yves Montand. Enjoy!