Goodbye, Cherry Grange
IMAGINE A HOUSE, in a garden. The paint is flaking and the chimney is cracked and the uncut grass is wild. But ignore all that. Look here instead, at the giant wisteria with a vine as thick as your arm, its purple flowers dripping against the old stone wall. Look at the swing hanging from that ancient oak, those cherry trees planted in a circle around the house. One of the trees is so close to a window that in summer, when it fruits, the girl who lives here can reach out to pick the cherries.
Imagine that—picking cherries from your bedroom window!
The house, Cherry Grange, was named for the trees. A man called Albert Mistlethwaite built it over a hundred years ago when he came home from a war, and his family has lived here ever since.
That’s a lot of cherries, and pies, and cakes, and pots of jam.
We’ll go inside now. Do you see those pale rectangles on the hall floor, those other pale rectangles on the walls? They were made by rugs and pictures, but those have gone now, along with all the furniture. There’s nothing left but dust and sunlight.
Let’s move on! Here is the kitchen—and here is the family, finishing breakfast.
Small, pale eleven-year-old Alice sits cross-legged on the counter with her nose in a book, tracing the words with her finger as she reads, chewing the end of one of her stiff dark braids. Her father, Barney (you may have seen him once on television), stands drinking coffee by the window with his back to the room, while his older sister, Alice’s aunt Patience, in paint-spattered overalls, dries crockery at the sink.
The last of the Mistlethwaites, in their natural habitat. Take a good look—you’ll not see this again. For the house is sold, and today they are moving out.