Moral Check

At home, very busy working, Rachel H and I installed in my living room. As we work, I’m watching the contractors from down the street and assorted strangers steal cherries outside the window. Here’s my question:

Is it wrong that I’ve stopped interrupting the theft to warn them that the cherries have worms in them this year?

Is it wrong that instead, this gives me a little giggle?

What would you do?

307 thoughts on “Moral Check

  1. What would I do? Apparently nothing, since that’s what I’m sitting here doing.

  2. Leave a “donation” basket under the tree. Well, it may be worth a try!

  3. I think I’d let them discover that there are worms in the cherries all by themselves (the thieves!).

  4. Are they climbing a fence to get at the cherries? If not, eat away! The more fruit trees in the city, the more healthy food choices for everyone! Not just those who can afford to get their food at the store.

  5. If they’re stupid enough to steal someone elses’ cherries, then they’re stupid enough to get worms. Plus, that’s why we have acid in our stomachs :)

  6. I’d do nothing, especially in light of the fact you’ve already warned them. Anyway, a little more protein won’t hurt them – or so my father used to tell me.

  7. What you do depends on whether or not you want the cherries yourself (worms or not). If you want to keep the cherries put up a sign such as “eat at your own risk – contaminated with …” and add your own choice of danger such as contains worms, recently sprayed with poison or my favourite “Danger – Radioactive”.
    If you don’t want the cherries just make sure that your household insurance is paid up. Never know when a thief may hurt themselves stealing and sue you.

  8. Thief beware. Sorry, I don’t know what that is in Latin. Maybe you should keep an eye on the first fellow who bites into a worm. Does *he* tell his friends or not? Let that be your guideline.
    Oh, and can you set up a webcam so we can watch too?

  9. If they have the cojones to steal cherries from a residential home, they better be prepared for whatever they get.
    Would it be fun to spray the cherries with Tabasco first? On the premise that you are trying to get rid of the worms? Or is that just me?

  10. Nope, let them eat them. Especially since they didn’t even bother to knock and ask.

  11. Tabasco sauce is a great idea! That would show them.
    Is it really that hard to knock and ask?

  12. The latin for “thief beware” is “raptor caveo”. Maybe they will be wondering about that long enough to notice the “protein”

  13. So sorry your cherries have worms. My are gorgeous and I have more than I can use. There are three other sour/pie cherry trees in my neighborhood and two of them are never picked! Wish I could send you some. Eating/stealing mine is not a problem; the tree is well into my yard. I agree that it takes balls to swipe especially when someone is watching.
    In California there is apparently a law that says anything hanging outside the property line is “fair game”. Recently saw something on line re urban foragers (or maybe it was in the NY Times).

  14. If they aren’t polite enough to ask if it’s okay to help themselves, you are not obligated to save them from themselves regarding the current state of the cherries.

  15. Put a sign up that says “Free Cherries with Extra Protein!, Help Yourself”…. but I’m nasty that way.
    Deb in Wisconsin

  16. Eh, unless your thieves are children, I say enjoy the show! LOL They’re theoretically old enough to be responsible for their actions…

  17. Me again – did anyone else notice the first person to comment did so on-line instead of just turning to the person sitting next to her on the venerable chesterfield and commenting in person? How funny is that?

  18. Friday’s Mom – Dude, if she knew I was taking a break to read the blog she’d kill me.

  19. This is one of the times when the crime entails its own punishment. Say nothing. We’re all giggling with you.

  20. They are STEALING cherries from YOUR tree???
    AWWWWWWWWW HAIL No! Girlfriend!
    Serves them NASTY, STEALING boogers RIGHT!

  21. My mother used to sprinkle the berries in her garden with plain old flour, pretending that is was something agains lice. It would keep the neighbourhood kids away without harming anyone.

  22. Many years ago there was an office building being built next to my house. My mother got very, very irate at all the people (and equipment) that would wander into our yard to look at how marvelous their new building was. She would go an yell at them about trespassing.
    Except for this one beautifully warm fall day, when all these people in their short sleeves started gathering all these beautiful yellow vines from some of our trees.
    Poison Ivy can be awfully pretty…my Mom didn’t say a thing as they gathered it up in their bare arms

  23. Thank you, Joanne at 3:24. The bonus of that sign is watching them look out nervously for velociraptors!
    I knew someone at Harlot’s Playhouse would know Latin.

  24. Wait! They are coming in your yard to pick fruit off of your tree? Without asking?
    Um…a little extra protein isn’t a (too terribly) bad thing…

  25. Years ago when my friend and I were pitting cherries the farmer next door had offered us from his tree, we discovered they were wormy. As wives of grad students with very little income and unwilling to waste free food, we were busily slicing each one open and removing the worms in preparation for canning the fruit. My brother and soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law, whom no one in the family could stand, came to visit unannounced, and my sister-in-law proceeded to plop herself at the dining table and begin eating cherries out of the bowl we had not de-wormed yet. My friend and I looked at each other questioningly, grinned, and let her go right on eating. I still get a giggle whenever I think about it.

  26. RachelH: She knows. But it is funny to see you commenting on her blog while sitting in her living room.
    Stephanie: I’d giggle too. If you really wanted to harvest your cherries this year you’d be out there defending them. With the dreaded wonder that is SS09 you’re not really going to have time for them so let the rude strangers have them. Let them find out about the worms on their own. I figure they have worms because you weren’t around to organically spray them at the right time this year.

  27. If they are not capable of asking permission to pick the cherries then they deserve to be ignorant and not be warned about removing the worm when they pit the cherries.

  28. Posted by: Rachel H at July 20, 2009 3:30 PM:
    “Dude, if she knew I was taking a break to read the blog she’d kill me.”
    Rachel, considering she had to take a break to blog it, I’d say you should be allowed to break to read it!

  29. My folks have a small pear orchard and every year I got out and pick a bunch to give away to friends and co-workers. I usually tell them that my folks do not spray for bugs … there might be bugs, watch out! In this case since you are not so interested in them, chuckle away. I would do the same if someone was stealing rotton/buggy/wormy fruit. I hope they take a bunch before they discover them!

  30. Let them eat worms. You are busy working. Although a sign would be funny. I agree with others, would love to see the thieving in action.

  31. I admit to confusion and naivete. I thought, “Birds eat worms all the time. This will be a double snack for them. Surely she knows this. She must be so busy with all the work that she has forgotten this. She might need a bit more rest.” It never occurred to me that people were the ones in your yard stealing cherries.

  32. The double-giggle would be if this year’s thieves spread the word about the wigglers (it might help if you referred to them as maggots instead of worms if questioned) so that thefts were down next year and you had double the work… (At least the old, loud Lithuanians had the decency to steal at night…)

  33. Let them eat cherries! ~ she says with her best Marie-Antoinette hair flip and accent….

  34. I would post a small sign saying, Please don’t pick the cherries. That way you are covered if some numskull later tries to sue you. But, if they have the nerve to pick the cherries in front of your house, then that should not stop them, and you can giggle all you want.

  35. Hmmm… am I the only one who occasionally snacks off city fruit trees? It’s not like I go to someone else’s home with a bucket, but if I’m passing by and the tree/bush isn’t behind a fence, I’ll snag a cherry or a berry as I amble on my way. Of course, it doesn’t bother me that much if my single cherry has a worm in it, either, and I say their snack + your giggle makes for a lovely summer afternoon all around!

  36. I would post a sign they would see on their way out that they may want to check at their local vet for a dewormer and leave them some toilet tissue to take for a souvenior.

  37. I think you and Rachel should take your work (along with some cool refreshing beverages outside). Anyone who isn’t freaked out by all the knitting gets to eat cherries–anyone who is scared of the knitting doesn’t!

  38. Is it like when people steal corn from our field, not realizing that it is ‘grain’ corn, not sweet corn….

  39. I am 100% behind your not saying anything. Seriously: It’s STEALING. And the added bonus? With any luck, it seems to me that those who discover the worms this year are less likely to be back next year to steal the good cherries….

  40. If they truly have worms, let them find out for themselves. They’ll have done you a favour by not letting the wormy cherries fall all over your lawn. And it IS funny.

  41. Have the phrase “Cherries and Worms! Cherries and Worms! I’m gonna get me some Cherries and Worms!” (a la “kibbles and bits”) running incessantly over and over again in my head, of course.

  42. Now that they have eaten quite a few…I would post a sign near the tree with a graphic picture. Google for ‘cherry maggot’. (Example: you’ll get a really good laugh watching them turn green and vomit looking at the picture! Serves them right stealing…especially after you tried to warn them.

  43. We dust our bird feed with the hottest chile powder we can find-usually habanero powder. Birds don’t have the receptors to feel it, but squirrels feel it as well as humans or any other mammal. Doesn’t do anything for the worms. But the powder is nutritious, so if you chose to keep the two-legged squirrels at bay with this, you might put a sign up about the hightened nutritive value. Worms are nutritious too, come to think of it…

  44. wait ’til next year, then post a sign saying “we apologize for last year’s wormy cherries” – hopefully that’ll keep them off of the next crop!

  45. Some one stole the unripe apples off our little tree last week. What is it with people? This was the first year it had fruit and I don’t even get to try any!
    I say let them eat the cherries, worms and all. Serves them right!

  46. Once when my son was just a month old or so, I was sitting half awake with the wee boy and a cup of coffee at the dining room table staring out the window at our garden. While I sat slack jawed, our neighbor walked over, plucked a tomato off our plant and walked back around the front of her house.
    I was stunned, but I never said a thing. I often wondered just how often that was going on, and whether she thought I would not be awake. Honestly I don’t think I was ever anything BUT awake in the first few months!

  47. Maybe they like the worms?
    This doesn’t really apply, as mine didn’t have worms in them, but I used to hand out paper cups and pull the branches down so people would pick the mulberries off our tree. Anything to keep the birds from eating them and leaving a purple streak on my car window!

  48. I’m surprised at all the commenters who consider grazing on cherries to be a Very Bad Act of Stealing. Having grown up in Small Town, Canada, I always thought that if it’s accessible from the sidewalk or near the sidewalk, it’s the owner’s generosity making it available to the people who pass by, but people who do help themselves should be polite and only take a handful. If it involves major inroads into the person’s yard, then it’s cheeky. If it involves breaching a fence or going into a backyard, then it’s trespassing and Not Okay.
    Personally, I don’t graze off of neighbours’ trees anymore, since you never know what they’ve sprayed on them.
    If I were inside watching people graze on wormy cherries, I think I’d be giggling, not warning. Cherries are famously wormy.

  49. As far as moral grounds go, I think you’re OK. One wrong (thievery) doesn’t justify another wrong. However, since the worms are harmless and aren’t likely to seriously hurt anyone aside from the yuck factor, I don’t think that your inaction is morally wrong. Who knows? Maybe some people like the worms.

  50. Nope, it’s not wrong. Here is how I see things from my moral perspective: Putting a sign out that says “Free Cherries” would be dipping a toe into wrong territory. Putting out a coffee can with a sign that says “All You Can Eat $1″ would most definitely be wrong. Boxing up the cherries and selling them for $5 would be just plain mean…and really, really wrong. Right now, you are safely planted in “not wrong” territory, IMHO.

  51. Don’t tell them. I have a *major* problem with kids thieving from my veggie patch (our house backs onto a council estate, where apparently a big wall, trees and thick nettles signal “please come in & steal from my garden”) so if they end up eating worms, fair game. Honestly, I could get quite shouty & ranty about this.
    Maybe I should just build a taller fence… deep breaths, deep breaths.

  52. Caveat scrumper, or whatever; let ‘em get on with it, particularly if you don’t fancy the cherries this year…

  53. I would hide on the side of the house and wait for them to show. Once they a picked a few jump out and yell “BOO!” Then I would tell them that the cherries had worms, well after I stop laughing that is.
    Clearly the more probable answer would be to let them have them since the worms will not harm them in anyway. Unless they ate huge amounts of them. Hooray for stomach acids.
    (But truth be told I would have to do the jump out and scare them thing at least once ;)

  54. I would sit on my front porch (assuming there is one) and laugh right at them, never telling them why…
    I may be a bit hormonal today, though…

  55. Why is it that people think if fruit is on the tree it’s free. My Dad had an orchard and people would stop and fill the trunk of their car with oranges. They didn’t understand the concept that someone cared for the trees and sold the fruit!

  56. That’s a toughie. On moral grounds I don’t think you’re obligated to warn the theives, but don’t you have to consider saving the poor worms ;-)
    Hmmmmmmm. Just wondering… Not likely that any of the theives is a blog-reading knitter, is it?

  57. I would tell them personally (I’d be chasing them off my property anyway – I don’t want strangers in my yard! Neighbor kids -ok – though I’m never happy with that because i would have NEVER stepped foot in someone elses yard without them there and them welcoming me)
    but at the same time – if you don’t have time to go chase them off all the time (and if they can’t tell you’re sitting there watching them) I don’t think they can try to sue you – they’re the ones tresspassing (now if they can see you through the window and think therefore that you’re ok with it, I’d reckon they’d then have a case to sue)

  58. OO, I just thought of something else: An air horn! or possible a whistle if not available. It would scare the bajeebers out of them. That should be good for an added giggle.

  59. your cherries? without worms, i would run them off the property. with worms, no warning necessary and giggle away! and i’m liking the air horn idea…

  60. “The latin for “thief beware” is “raptor caveo”. Maybe they will be wondering about that long enough to notice the “protein””
    They’ll probably be wondering where the dinosaurs are.

  61. I imagine it depends on how you feel about the worms. Which gets a little judgmental towards the worms. Are you so put out by them having the cherries that you think the worms deserve to be eaten?
    As for the people – given the intelligence and skill set to make a decision about their behavior and the acceptability of stealing from someone else, there’s a certain amount of turnabout that’s fair play.

  62. The way things are going these days if you said anything or posted a sign they would just think you were just saying it to keep them from eating them…so let them enjoy…

  63. Personally, I think karma will punish them for stealing their cherries. But wouldn’t they begin to notice that there is a change in flavor and texture inside the cherry and realize their mistake? As long as you’re insured and paid up, I’d enjoy the free entertainment outside.

  64. I’d giggle. If possible I’d also have little Olympic even scoring cards handy to judge the facial expressions / body language of the thieves as they discover said worms.
    But I’m snarky like that.

  65. What bothers me is when total strangers ring the doorbell to ask if I will give them a bag, so they can help themselves to more of my tangerines than they could carry without it. I don’t like tangerines, so I wouldn’t mind their taking them, but I hate being interrupted so I can become an accomplice in a theft against myself.
    I’d let the cherry-thieves find out for themselves that the cherries have worms.

  66. Another vote for sit and giggle, though to be honest in my part of the country our fruit can sit on the trees and go rotten which seems like a shame and a waste. I also remember posts about being buried by cherries and needing help to eat them all, so it’s a toss up really.
    A few years back when my friends moved into their new house they had some teens come and steal apples from the tree well inside their fenced yard. Well the apples were nowhere near ripe so I have a feeling the teens were pretty sick the whole night. I don’t think they’ve had that problem again.
    I do pick fruit from people’s trees but I ask first and I’ve never been turned away.
    And yes we do have crime in Canada, unfortunately.

  67. Actually, “let the thief beware” would be caveat raptor. Raptor caveo translates as something like “I, the thief, warn [you]” which is probably NOT the desired message here.
    Yes, I’m a dork, why do you ask?

  68. I’d probably feel compelled to post a sign (“Caution: cherries may be occupied”).

  69. Probably a good thing you are in Canada rather than the US. In the US the property owner could probably be sued if the thief were made ill from ingesting stolen property. I believe Canadian jurisprudince and individual code of responsibility will not allow anyone who gets sick from the pilfered cherries to not sue, therefore, sit and laugh that they are truly getting their just ‘desserts’.
    P S, I am a residence of and citizen of the US, I can mock us if I choose.

  70. Given the fact that they are 1) trespassing on YOUR lawn and 2) stealing YOUR cherries, I’d do nothing but sit and giggle. If they end up getting sick from the worms, it’s what they deserve for stealing from you in the first place.
    But it is funny.

  71. This is for techiechick. Don’t bother building a taller fence, just grease the top of the fence you already have. Many years ago DH & I lived in a house that backed onto one of the town parks. Kids would hit balls over the fence into the various yards then hop over the fence to retrieve their balls, not caring if they stomped on our veggie plants. DH put grease on the top of the fence (chain link). It wasn’t really obvious. One day we were in the backyard & a kid jumps up on the top of the fence & says “hey, there’s grease on your fence, you should clean it up!” We acted surprised & with a straight face DH said we didn’t have time to do it right then. Then we went into the house & cracked up.
    I really like the suggestions of spraying the cherries with habenero sauce. That’s actually been suggested as a spray to deter deer & rabbits from eating young trees in the winter.

  72. I wouldn’t have a problem with the theft if they were taking from a tree overhanging the sidewalk, but sounds like they are trespassing. In which case, GIGGLE at least. Maybe post an interesting sign (some of the ones already suggested are gooood)

  73. Actually y’all with the Latin are all wrong.
    If you want to yell at someone about the cherries, use the Imperative singular voice which would be “Cave, Raptor!” “Beware, Thief!” (English punctuation helps for clarity so my teachers taught me.)
    “Caveat Raptor” is the subjunctive, singular, 3rd person, correctly translated as stated before, “Let the thief beware,” but is hardly firm admonishment I think Stephanie’s going for.
    Try something like “The cherries have worms” “Cerasi larvas tenent.” Or simply “bad cherries”, “Mali Cerasi” which I would turn into “Mal Cerasi” because ‘mal’ is still in usage in French which is mangled Latin anyway.
    Enough nerdment for today.

  74. These are the same people who thinks it’s OK to eat their way through the grocery produce section without paying. Not that you want payment, just a polite “please may I try some of your fruit?” Love the idea of the sign in Latin…
    P.S. It was very nice meeting you the other night at Cornelius Roadhouse. Couldn’t believe you were in my neighborhood! Looking forward to volunteering at SS.

  75. If you warn them about worms, they may move on to someone else’s cherry tree. Therefore, it is your duty to your innocent neighbors to keep quiet and savor the schadenfreude.

  76. ok, if you follow one person’s advice and put a sign up “…danger – radioactive” – beware – you could get unexpected visitors from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and find yourself in a different situation while they check it out!

  77. I too was going to suggest a super-hot chile spray. I like the air-horn idea too though, while you are hiding. I think I would die laughing at that. Nope, let them eat them.

  78. Get a large dog. Once, when I lived on Vancouver Island, and our Stella cherry tree was literally groaning with dark, delicious cherries, a neighbourhood kid thought he’d just hop the fence into our yard and have himself some cherries. He had one leg over when our Labrador retriever saw him. This otherwise gentle dog went roaring across the lawn barking hysterically and the kid did a reverse and took off down the alley.That was the only time she ever barked at anyone except raccoons. We got to eat all our cherries.

  79. Can I just whine little about how sad I am that Woodsock, erm, I mean SS09, coincides with my 6 yo’s very fist swim meet? I am so bummed. :( I thought about demanding that they change the dates, but I didn’t think I’d get very far. :sigh:

  80. Laugh now but only if you can handle the “knitting goddess’” wrath. This giggle could lead to ripping back miles of garter stitch or a plague of moths descending upon your abundant stash.

  81. Are they YOUR cherries? If so, let them eat worms! Not really, but it is funny.

  82. Stephanie, shame on you. Put a sign out – “Warning for Vegetarians
    These Cherries have Worms”, afterall you don’t eat heads do you?
    We have a macadamia tree that drops its nuts over the boundary. Some people pick them up. some feel bothered by being caught, others not. If my husband found children picking them up to sell, he would help them – he loves enterprise, particularly in the young. If I come across it I tell people to ‘help themselves’ – I can’t get ‘dog in the manger-ish’ about something I hadn’t taken the trouble to use, and anyway if they can find their way into a macadamia nut they deserve the as fruits of their labour.
    St Augustine is known to have stolen fruit as a child – my mother thought if a saint could have done it, it was more likely human nature. She was dismayed that in Madrid the street oranges stayed on the trees, until she found out they were bitter oranges!

  83. I say giggle, but also keep an eye out on E-Bay for “Cherries from the Yarn Harlot’s Yard.”

  84. i would count the number of contractors who may regret this later. i may even calculate the future health care dollars wasted due to their own lack of moral compass.
    better yet, turn it into a drinking game. one chug per cherry and see how long beforand have a beer and laugh. bonus chugs for repeat customers!!

  85. it’s not wrong at all. They are your cherries and they should ask if they want some, or just leave them the hell alone.

  86. Well, lets put it this way, my grandmother had a cherry tree and a young lady came riding along on her horse and stopped and picked/stole some cheeries. My grandmother shot her with bird shot. That won’t break the skin, but it will sting quite a bit. So anything I think that is short of shooting them is probably okay.

  87. I say ,to paraphrase Marie Antoinette, Let them eat worms!” A little extra protein won’t hurt them.

  88. I think it is morally imperative that you tell them that the cherries have worms.
    But only after they have eaten them.
    My mother used to read stories to me from “Cautionary Tales for Children” by Hilaire Belloc, which had stories with titles like “Jim, Who Ran Away from his Nurse and was Eaten by a Lion” or “Matilda, Who Told Lies and Burned to Death”.
    Let us work on a story of our own, shall we? Let us call it, “Cable Guy, Who Stole Cherries and died of the Trots”.

  89. They are stealing from you and you’re worried about the product they are stealing?!? They so get what they deserve. And yes, Kinnearing them would be the icing on the cake!

  90. You don’t have time to warn them about the worms. If they don’t bother to check for holes in their stolen cherries they get what they pay for and more. Slave on!
    So, you won’t be bitching about the bumper crop and what to do with all the cherries this year?

  91. Continue on, says I. How very Shakespearean of you to sit back and enjoy a giggle over the impending doom of those who eat worm infested cherries. Sort of Karmic, don’t you agree?

  92. As a tree-climbing (cherry trees are the best climbers) cherry stealer in my youth, I believe that eating wormy cherries creates fat cells which attach to hips and the stomach region. There is no other explanation.

  93. …I say you either let them work out the worms on their own, or put some sort of sign up. “There is something wrong with these cherries, may make you ill. Please knock for more information.”
    So how big has the legendary cherry tree o’ thieving gotten? Inquiring minds want photos!

  94. What’s wrong with a little protein? If you steal the wormy cherries, then you suffer the wormy consequences.
    They should chew well.

  95. Good for deal! You get revenge, they get protein and the Willies! Think you win!

  96. Let them eat!
    When they’re not wormy, or maybe now before you forget, register your tree with . They’ll pick it, give you some and donate the rest to food security programmes in your ward.

  97. I’d wait to see their expression when they realize there is only half a worm left in the cherry they just took a bit out of.
    Then laugh.

  98. Let ‘em enjoy and you revel in the fact there are that many less you have to clean up!

  99. You reap what you sow, or as someone mentioned about karma. What goes around comes around or vice versa. Or what ever on the spelling.

  100. I’m appalled at the commenters who think it’s fine to take fruit off of someone’s tree!! Are you that open with your yarn stash?? Can I help myself to those KnitPicks Options sitting on your coffee table?? I mean, they’re there, out in the open, free to whomever may feel the desire to grab them.
    I’d get a sprinkler that I can turn on remotely. That or get your hose and pull it into the house. When the interlopers start picking, you stick your hand out the window and start spraying.
    I’m bitter because a neighbor has ruined fully 1/3 of my garden this year.

  101. Cherry theft is the pits. If I’m gonna yell at them in Latin, it’s going to be along the lines of “stupra fascino volante torum pistrinum provolventum”.
    Of course, I’m a very rude-type person.

  102. I agree with Aidan that you are absolutely obligated to inform these people that the cherries have worms… AFTER they’ve eaten their fill. Serves the crooks right, the dirty thieves, rotten scoundrels.

  103. If they don’t notice the wormholes then I guess they suffer the circumstances, don’t they? They better clean up their pits though.

  104. I have a question regarding cherry growing: what do you do to prevent said maggoty, wormy cherries? I planted a tree last summer (Stella cherry). This year there were no blossoms and thus no cherries but thats ok…its alive and growing. Yet, something is making a mess of the leaves (wee holes etc). Just wondered if the cherry expert Harlot had any cherry culture advice.
    PS: I would be so pissed if someone was stealing my fruit. Let them eat the nasty worms and hopefully suffer a bit of “Montezuma’s Revenge” (what would that be for Canadian cherry theives? Mulroney’s Malaise?? Diefenbaker’s Diarrhea? Borden’s Bleaaaahhhhhhrrrggghh(vomit sound)?
    PPS: we are having amazing raspberries in our patch this year!:oD

  105. I think if you eat cherries off a strangers tree worms are a risk you take, Hey the more eaten the less there will be there to fall and get in the mower.

  106. I read your dilemma to my dear sweet hubster who said “Let ‘em have it, they’ll figure it out sooner or later.” This from a man who takes his cherries (and the theft thereof) QUITE seriously.

  107. The first year we were married we rented a house with a plum tree in the yard (inside a fence). When the plums were on the tree but before they were ripe neighborhood kids started swarming over the fence, climbing the garage to get at the plums. We carefully explained that we’d be happy to give them some if they’d knock at the door and ask, but really, the plums weren’t ripe yet.
    Eventually found out they didn’t want to eat them, they were selling them to a local man who was making plum wine! So much for our little sermons.

  108. Aren’t they taking cherries that should really go to your friend the sqwerl? Let the sqwerl tell them off.

  109. Hmmm… if it were ONLY accessible to people who climbed a fence or otherwise trespassed, I’d put up a sign that says “High Protein Cherries, Help Yourself”

  110. Print up a small, official-looking sign to put up near the tree in a discreet but visable spot that says something like this:
    “Please be advised. This tree and it’s fruit may be a carrier for the following disease(s):
    Agrobacterium tumefaciens
    Monilinia fructicola
    Botrytis cinerea
    Pseudomonas syringae
    Coccomyces hiemalis
    Podosphaera clandestina
    Leucostoma cincta
    Apiosporina morbosa
    If you feel you have been exposed, please contact your local ag research center for assistance.”
    For your info and not the eaters of the fruit, definitions of these diseases can be found here, under ‘Cherry Disease’ about 2/3 down the page.
    Just because the folks stealing the cherries aren’t cherry trees, doesn’t make the sign wrong… but latin coupled with ‘disease’ does tend to freak folks out. Cheers!

  111. Huh, haven’t come across this problem yet. Probably since major cities in the States aren’t known for the roadside produce! Perhaps the squirrel will attack them!

  112. Heh. That’s karma. Big juicy cherry with a big juicy worm. Besides, you’re a busy woman. You don’t have time to warn them… ;)

  113. I was always taught that if it was out of the confines of your yard, it was fair game. That being said, there is no quality assurance on free food. Eat at your own risk!
    If their cherry has a worm in it, they will figure it out eventually. If not, it is not your problem. Relax and giggle. That is what I would do!

  114. I would not do a thing. They are stealing from you, and I would laugh right along with you that they are getting worm ladden cherries.
    I would also remind you that with all the commenting you did on how the cherries leave baby trees in your yard and in your garden I would be thankful that they are hauling off all those baby tree seeds!

  115. If Canadian law says that thieving cherrypickers can’t sue you for any damage they might encounter while picking and eating your cherries (check it) I would say, you won’t have time or gusto to can/deepfreeze them this year, so certainly you will be thankfull for not having to swipe so many fallen cherries from your property. Next year when there are no worms put up a sign that says: recently sprayed against worms, not to be eaten fresh. Then you can even put up a sign with: If you pick more cherries then needed for one cherrie-pie you are considered thieving, put that in your yard, not on the pavement. By the way, cherry-brandy is delicious and worms come out if you put the cherries in cold water with some spoonfulls of salt, just rinse before further preparation and alcohol kills worms too, you only use the juice.

  116. I really like the idea of the sign (about the size of a business card) proclaiming the cherries are not vegetarian.

  117. The phrase “divine justice” comes to mind, but I really like the air horn idea

  118. I first read the topic “Mural check”. (I’m blaming a headache!) The post started making much more sense when I re-read it right… :)

  119. Well first off, I wouldn’t steal your cherries!!! That’s so sad. Since you are computer savvy, and so is my seriously geeky family, you might want to consider putting a sign on the tree that says “Smile! You’re on candid camera!” and put an arrow pointing to the window. Then you can put a webcam in your window with another sign that says “Streaming live and online at!” or whatever site would float your boat. I also love the non-vegetarian sign and the list of cherry diseases ideas! What a riot! The latin would definitely freak non horticultural people out.
    The sad part of all this is when my son was around 3 I had a similar incident in a grocery store. It was cherry season and there was an enormous cherry display with at least 7 or 8 people standing around “sampling” the cherries. My son asked if he could eat a cherry too. I said that no he couldn’t eat one now, but I would buy some so he could have some when we went home. He asked why he couldn’t eat one now when all the other people, all adults, were eating them. I quietly said that all the other people were stealing and we didn’t steal. The cherries were sold by weight so if we ate them now we couldn’t pay for them at the checkout. At which point a lady started very loudly proclaiming that she didn’t steal, she was just “sampling the cherries to see if they were any good” and calling me a liar. All the while she was proclaiming she didn’t steal, she had cherry juice on her face and lips! I asked her if she had paid for the cherries she had eaten before she ate them. She said no. I asked her if she had been weighed after she came into the store. She said “Of course not!” I told her that since she had no way of knowing how much the cherries that she ate cost, and there wasn’t a sign that said “Please help yourself” or “Free samples” then her actions fit the definition of stealing. She and the other adults who were all “sampling” were taking something that didn’t belong to them without asking or paying for it! After that the cherry display cleared out very quickly. Best of all my son actually understood that what the cherry eaters were doing was wrong and said “Mommy, let’s get some cherries and take them home, wash them, and eat them all up. But please make sure that no one follows us home.” Puzzled, I asked him why he was worried about someone following us home and he said “I don’t want those people sampling my Tonka trucks!”

  120. Leave a donations box nearby. Think of all that lovely yarn you can invest in at Sock Summit. On the donations box have a sign which says “please help yourself to cherries” and at the bottom, in the smallprint – which all signs must have – these cherries contain vitamins and minerals, including protein, in the form of worms.”

  121. I could have sworn there was such a creature as a “contractor bird”. But Mr. Google tells me no. I have a similar problem with my lilac bush in the spring. Passers-by makes off with a bloom or two, leaving broken branches in their wake for me to prune. But I digress. Why on earth should you feel a moral obligation to warn people that your organic cherries *may* contain worms? My grocery store doesn’t. Do they actually enter your yard? Or just reach over the fence? What did Farmer Maggot do when he caught Frodo stealing his mushrooms? Perhaps you should set the cat loose on the thieves!

  122. This might qualify as schadenfreude. Of course, it could just be a case of just desserts. :D

  123. First off, I can’t imagine that the thieves would get physically sick from the worms, for heaven’s sake. I can’t imagine you have any real worries on that score. It’s not as if you deceptively SOLD wormy cherries.
    Second, it’s lots of fun dreaming up retaliation! I suppose you could put up a sign: “Non-Vegetarian”.

  124. I’d watch them eat the cherries then go out and tell them that the cherries have worms this year. Then watch their faces. That would be funny!
    BTW I’ve eaten cherries (from my own yard) and found out later that there were worms.

  125. I’d wait a few more days, then put out a sign saying the cherries are wormy. That should gross out the thieves that smugly stole your fruit. The nerve of some people!

  126. Saying something to them would just take away their enjoyment of those provocative stolen cherries, so really, under the “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” rule, you are really improving the quality of their day by not saying anything. It’s a win win situation; you get to giggle, they get to enjoy the forbidden fruit.

  127. OMG Tooo funny! Though I’m sure you now have a seat waiting for you in Hell. Not to worry, it’s where we’re holding the party.

  128. Let them eat…I had some wild grape vines along side my house that some ladies used to come and pick. I’d try to stick my head out of the door and warn them that they were mingled with poison ivy. They’d run when I stepped out the door and then come back later. So I just let them pick =).

  129. I don’t know about warning them, but I’d put up a sign saying private property — trespassers are being recorded for YouTube! That way, we can all watch the expressions on their faces when they eat the worms!

  130. LOL – I think the moral is that this is good for your morale – both the giggling and the realization that karma has a way of dealing with things. You don’t even have to interfere.

  131. Put out a step ladder. Also a sign that says “Pick your own: All Natural Cherries” and a donations box.
    Because in the US “all natural” is code for “we don’t want to pay for official organic certification” And everyone know that the good, all natural stuff, might have more bugs.

  132. Let them eat. It’s what our neighbour did when we were stealing his crabapples. We learned real quick like that some years the theft wasn’t good an idea.
    Of course there was the year he got so tired of it that he turned a hose on us.

  133. Nice! I asked my hubby to let me know if he is out delivering mail and sees trees with cherries or any other wildish fruits that seem to be neglected to let me know because I like to make all sorts of yummy things out of them and then they are free. I know a lot of people are annoyed by the volume of fruit that come off their trees and never have any intention of eating them.

  134. hmmm…. good question to ponder. i don’t think people feel they ARE stealing when it comes to picking fruit. and yet it IS obviously someone else’s tree/fruit. hmmmm… in this case perhaps you are right to let “the buyer beware”… or to let the “robber run the risk”?? :)

  135. Is it better to discover that they have worms from someone else or to find half a worm in the cherry???????

  136. A few years ago I was in Alaska staying with friends and blueberries were ripe at the time, so we were all outdoors picking them. Their trick was to bring the blueberries home and soak them in salt water. The worms crawl out and die. You rinse the blueberries and then eat them. I didn’t complain because that didn’t sound like what a good guest would do, so we all ate the blueberries happily.
    I wonder if you can do that with cherries too? Or is that gross everywhere but Alaska, where the people are known to be a bit different, with a little die hard survivor thrown in. If they were my cherries, I would have a hard time letting them go to waste. I would wnat to salvage and eat/freeze every one that I could. I wonder what you know about any way you could save the cherries/get the worms out, if you wanted to. Maybe they are big ugly gross worms and not worth the trouble?

  137. Funny. I have a gorgeous sour cherry tree in my front yard. Our neighborhood is full of walkers and people reach up and grab them all the time. It never occurred to me to call it stealing. Instead I call it sharing, same as I do with the birds.

  138. Oh, I would definitely tell them. But not for the sake of being friendly and looking out for their well being so much as the sake of pointing out the fact that their sneaky endeavor is totally going to backfire. Then I’d get to have a good laugh :)
    I was sneaking cherries at a friend’s house the other day and wondering why they were still on the trees… turns out they were all mildewed. Oops!

  139. I was visiting an aunt in Calafornia and she plucked a ripe fig from a stranger’s tree. I was horrified but still remember how tasty it was.

  140. Within the property line equals stealing if they did not ask first. Hanging over the sidewalk equals fair game.
    I’ve taken ‘free’ fruit hanging outside a fence or growing wild along a roadside (mmmm, blackberries!), and I’ve knocked on a door to ask if I could get a few apples / pears from a tree in someone’s front yard. If nothing else, it shows common courtesy and respect for others’ property (sorely lacking these days). I’ve never been turned down when I inquire.
    As for the wormy cherries, for me it would depend on whether people were trespassing to get them. If so, I would likely put out a small reminder (“This cherry tree is on private property, and you are both trespassing and stealing. Property owners not responsible for what may befall you while engaged in these illegal acts.”) Not that I would expect a sign to ward off many people, but my conscience would sleep better know that I at least tried to educate / warn them. Beyond that, let them eat worms.

  141. Well, born & raised in Florida I’ve never even seen a cherry tree. But last weekend I was kayaking down a creek (with manatee and alligators!) and there was an AMAZING mango tree with lots of ripened fruit just dangling there; some had already fallen. I have to say that it was awfully tempting. But I refrained, knowing that karma tends to have an extra keen eye on what I do.

  142. I’d have no problems with it. If the cherries are just going to ripen and fall off the tree, then where’s the harm in people enjoying them before they go to waste? I’d post a sign about the worms, and leave it up to them if they want to risk it.

  143. If you steal something, that “thing” comes with no guarantees. Therefore, steal cherries (or whatever) at your own risk..

  144. I seem to recall you drowning in cherries in years past – I suspect you have enough to share, even with worms. :D

  145. “…My mother used to read stories to me from “Cautionary Tales for Children” by Hilaire Belloc, which had stories with titles like “Jim, Who Ran Away from his Nurse and was Eaten by a Lion” or “Matilda, Who Told Lies and Burned to Death”.
    Let us work on a story of our own, shall we? Let us call it, “Cable Guy, Who Stole Cherries and died of the Trots”.” -Aiden, July 20, 2009 8:29 PM
    And here I thought that I was the only person in the world with fond memories of that book! I was recently hunting for it in bookstore after bookstore and no one had ever heard of it.
    On to the point:
    A few years ago, my mother bought a lovely little house with a dear little peach tree in the front yard. Not even remotely near the street, this tree is about a step and a half from the front porch and clearly beyond any arguable “community property zone.” Still, after about eight months of living there peacefully, she went out one day to find a few of her neighbors (all from the same household) standing at the tree with bags and baskets, helping themselves to the peaches. ALL of the peaches. When confronted, all the neighbors had to say was, “Well, the lady who lived here before you never said anything about it.”
    Now, Mum has always been a gardener, and she’s always been generous with the products of her gardens. She’d have been glad to let them have some of the peaches, had they asked. (Ask me about the year we made gallons of strawberry jam to give away.) Still, it was too much to have all of these people trampling her carefully tended flowers and tearing up her tree in the act of stealing every last one of her peaches. After having had a grand time coming up with all sorts of tales to tell about the purloined peaches (“Neighbor, Who Stole Peaches and Died in Agony and Shame, of Stomach Upset”), we decided that the damage having been done, what was most called for was a plan of defense for the next year.
    The yard is now bordered neatly by a waist-high, mostly impenetrable hedge of wild rose bushes. They’re lovely whilst in bloom, and the thorns are more agressive than those of any domestic rose I’ve ever seen. The only clear approach to the peach tree now is to come straight up the driveway and onto the footpath that leads right past the large front window and to the door. So far, no one has been quite that brazen.

  146. I’d go on and giggle with you though the air horn idea sounds to good to pass up.
    I guess if you wanted to put up a sign it could read:
    “free cherry with every worm”

  147. Giggle with added enthusiasm.
    Cherries with a little extra *something* to them.

  148. Once when I was little, my dad and I stole an apple from an orchard, when I bit into mine it had a huge worm in it. My dad said, “That’s the risk you take when you steal apples!”. I think the same principal applies to stealing cherries.

  149. Definitely let them eat the wormy cherries……good luck with all the work stuff.

  150. I do believe this falls under the caveat of “buyer beware,” or in this case, “filcher beware.”
    I don’t blame you for giggling about it.

  151. The plucking is good for the plant. The giggling is good for you. Let ‘em eat!

  152. Then there’s 4-legged “thieves”. I have a small lemon tree that I take outside in the summer (it winters indoors-this is Toronto!) I was too lazy to wrap it in netting this year and squirrels have made off with all the baby lemons. But not too far. They go about a foot then drop it, each fruit with one bite out. My consolation is imagining all those squirrel with puckered “lemon faces” trying to get the sourness out of their mouthes.

  153. Given that they are stealing the cherries from the tree on your property, I’d say giggle! Some of the sign ideas are fun too! And I’d second the warning to younger children – but only those you judge young enough to know better.
    Or, if you can keep a straight face, rush out and let some of the cherry samplers know after they have sampled…. [This would be hard.]

  154. I would watch them eat the cherries with the worms. After awhile I might walk out and tell them the cherries have worms in them this year. And turn around and walk back into the house and giggle.
    This reminds me of when my cousin used to come to my house all the time. She would help herself to beer, snacks, food. What ever might look good to her at the time. I had a rabbit then and bought it these fancy rabbit treats, They looked like granola in a bag. We were talking away and she looked at the bag, grabbed a hand full and stuck it in her mouth and chewed. I tried for awhile to keep a straight face but ended up bursting out laughing when she had this confusing look on her face as to why this tasted so badly. But a little bird seed, oats, and other such bunny stuff wont hurt her. I still laugh thinking about it.

  155. Nah, you shouldn’t warn them…I mean, worms are as nutricious as cherries…protein!!! lol

  156. What should you do?
    Girl, be happy you can GROW cherries in Toronto. We don’t have them here in Maine (outside of the grocery store).

  157. about two years ago I planted an apple tree in our front yard so that when it grows all the kids can come and climb and steal apples, I think it’s part of being a kid so let em at it, plus worms? just added protein (kidding)
    But the real reason for this comment is there was something on the news about bush fires in Canada that were really bad so wanting to make sure its on the other side of Canada to where you’re at :) hope you guys are safe, being in Australia we know how crazy scary bush fires can be.

  158. Karma.
    Although it would be fun to have an air horn to get their attention and a sign that says “WORMS” to hold up when they look.

  159. One year my brother foiled the theft of his pommegranites with a small sign: “One of these pommegranites have been poisoned. Good Luck!”

  160. Sometimes the punishment fits the crime and sometimes the punishment is just plain funny. Enjoy -

  161. Let them eat wormy cherries, good source of protein!! I have a story about worms and broccoli and a good old boy racist at a family dinner. The worms didn’t seem to affect him!

  162. I don’t think I’d be serene with someone walking into my yard to pick fruit. Perhaps a small sign on the tree “everything has a price” with pix of some worms. hehe

  163. The problem with signs is that some people don’t read them.
    Honestly, I was aghast the first time someone admitted to me “I don’t read signs.”
    So don’t waste precious giggling and knitting energy (and time) making one.

  164. I’d tell them that the cherries have worms. But, that’s just me. I’m not mean, I don’t believe in “an eye for an eye” and I don’t like cruel jokes.

  165. See, normally I’d say that picking large amounts of cherries from someone’s front yard is wrong. I limit myself to one or two berries, and that’s only if it’s overhanging the sidewalk (if it hits me in the face, it shouldn’t be there anyhow). But since I recall you mentioning that earlier years you’ve tried to go and tell people that yes, they can pick from this tree, just like the ones on public property, and they just run away, you really don’t want to scare people off because then your cherries won’t get picked.
    If they don’t know that you have to watch for extra protein when you pick your own fruit (or anything other than grocery store fruit really), then they will benefit greatly from your wormy cherries. It’s a lesson everyone needs to learn. And since they were, technically, trespassing and stealing you don’t have to worry about someone being able to sue you. Not in Canada.

  166. It’s the law of natural consequences seems to me. As a result of stealing cherries they eat worms. Don’t get in the middle of that. It appears to be working perfectly. The shame of it it that they probably don’t realize they’re eating them. No one ever died from eating a worm in a piece of fruit. And you can’t patrol your tree all day. Sleep well knowing the universe is in order.

  167. I think a sign that reads “these cherries have bugs” would be more than they deserve. But I would be too grossed out to watch people eat bugs.

  168. What would I do? Go for a snack because all this talk about eating is making me hungry (but I think I’d skip the cherry pie today) then follow EZ’s advice: “KNIT ON, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”
    When you’re knitting and have good food/drink in front of you, who cares about people stealing cherries with worms?

  169. I believe, deeply, that crime doesn’t pay. Somehow crime has its own backlash … in this case worms ! Sometimes the criminal is so dense, dumb, blind or wounded that they don’t notice the bad – but sometimes [blessed times] they discover the down side of their crime and are horrified !
    I could go on and on … we only think the rich criminal is happy [Madoff for example] … his ongoing and very sick greed bespeaks a very unhappy man. Okay, more than you asked I know, I know. See you next week [I'm so excited]

  170. Hi Stephanie,
    I work at Braille Int. in Florida and we just finished transcribing, your latest book into Braille. We read the book together, My partner is an unsighted man (he reads the braille part),Duh!,,, and I read the print. We were delighted! We laughed for 2 days. Anyway…we both discovered that neither one of us have ever had a pair of hand-knit socks! We would love to have a couple pair. Do you know anyone who might take pity on us? I mean there should be a law! Thanks so much for your great book, it was such a pleasure.
    cathy and joe

  171. I second the motion:
    Let them eat worms.
    I didn’t care if people ate some of the fruit off trees in my yard (back when
    I had a yard) but as far as I am concerned, you takes your chances if you are too lazy to check your fruit before you bite into it.

  172. A friend of mine said once that she didn’t worry too much about worms on the broccoli because what are they made of? Broccoli. Using that logic, the cherry worms probably aren’t as harmful to the thieves as one would hope.

  173. no you need “caveat raptor”…Thief beware (just like “caveat emptor.. Buyer beware)
    and I say Let them eat worms…serves them right….a few days from now put up a sign…”Sprayed for worm infestation…do not handle”…see how many passer-bys suddenly look ill.

  174. I’m restricted from consuming everything except clear fluids for three days for medical reasons. It’s day two. I’m so darned hungry that I’d consider eating the worms sans cherries.

  175. If the cherries are in easy reach of passersby then I’d put up a sign. If they have to do some trespassing to get to the cherries, I’d let them eat them.
    However, it might be noteworthy to point out that one day someone important to you might not think it’s stealing to eat someone’s cherries/whatever fruit that are in easy reach and then it won’t be funny when they get a belly full of worms. Just a thought.
    Happy knitting!

  176. From reading your tweets: I’m sure all of the SS09 staff deserve tiaras. Post an address (not a personal one) and I’m sure that several would be forthcoming. I’d be happy to send one if I owned one. Maybe we could knit them out of shiny yarn and sparkly jewels!

  177. Hi! I just remembered a tale of stolen foods from my college days. Two of my friends liberated some corn from a field they had driven past – it looked very ripe and good. After cooking up a couple of ears they discovered it was field corn (grown for animal feed and not very tasty to humans). So they took the rest of it outside their apartment (on a busy street just off campus), left it in a bag with a sign saying “Free Corn” and then stood nearby commenting about how they had already eaten some and how good it was. I guess the fun part for them was luring all these other folks into grabbing some and then getting fooled when they went to eat it, just as my friends had. At least the secondary folks weren’t stealing!
    I have since been told that most of the time corn planted near main roads is field corn for just this reason.

  178. We already know you have a camera. We want pictures of them!! We already know you are sneaky. Soooo… snap away. We wanna see these thieves.

  179. You know what they say–the only thing worse than finding a worm in a cherry is finding half a worm. . .
    Reminds me of one of my mother-in-law’s favorite stories. She used to make cherry liqueur every year from a cherry tree in her backyard. One year she picked a bumper crop, put it in a sealed jug of vodka, and left it for a couple days. When she went back to check on it, the worms had all emerged from the cherries and were DANCING in the vodka–presumably coked to the gills. (Or whatever worms have instead of gills.)
    She threw out the jar still sealed, and never made–or touched–cherry liqueur again.

  180. I read your post to my husband after I got my breath back from laughing so hard I almost had an asthma attack. He suggests that he would set up a web cam to catch their expressions when they find the worms and post it to U-tube. Should be good for several million laughs.

  181. I’ve never seen a worm in a cherry. Don’t you guys have pesticides up there in Canada? (sick joke)

  182. I grew up in a small, rural village with fruit trees in every yard and many on the sidewalks so I have an inherited predilection toward stealing fruit. :-) Sorry, I’d be stealing your cherries, too. And the mulberries often have worms .. I eat them anyway, they don’t hurt you.

  183. I was just about to post the link to the article, but the previous poster beat me to it!
    I wonder if the Cracked staff anticipated much readership crossover between knitbogs and dirty internet humor blogs. God, I hope so!

  184. OMG!!! I love the plan with the air horn! Tooooo funny! I’m getting a visual!…. sigh!.

  185. Are the worms a pretty color? You might want to send a picture so the Sanguine Gryphon can emulate the colors in her Bugga! yarn.

  186. I think a little tequila (complete with worm, of course) would go nicely with stolen cherries.

  187. Did you ever finalize the pattern for the beautiful cowl you designed back in January?

  188. Along the line of “buyer beware”, there should probably be an appendix of “thieves should carefully inspect their ill-gotten gains”.

  189. Just put a warning sign on the tree – “Warning, cherries might squirm!”
    That ought to get their attention.

  190. I actually would let people know about the worms. Even if people are stealing them, which I agree is wrong, if there is a chance that the people might get sick from them, I would let them know about it.

  191. Not wrong at all. People who don’t have the decency to ask permission to harvest something on another’s property deserve worms.

  192. I’d wait a day or two then put up a huge sign with some ridiculous recipe with nasty ingredients and call it the “Antidote” for cherries eaten from this tree! Nothing harmful, just nasty, buttermilk with liquorish chopped up it in. Then I would giggle.

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