Cherries as Metaphor

At our property in the Languedoc region of France, we’ve had a bumper cherry harvest this year. Seems like it will be an excellent year for fruit in general. I hope so, because the veggies are in desperate shape. Some of our onions are having near-death experiences, for example. The problem with conference season is – you don’t get to work your vegetable garden.

But I digress – back to the cherries. Every year, as I pick the handsful of glorious, abundant cherries, I thank the birds for staying mostly up high.

Low Hanging Fruit
Low Hanging Fruit

Cherry picking, of course, is a time honoured art. We cherry pick through bargain bins at our favourite stores. We cherry pick the best ideas dreamed up by our colleagues. We cherry pick those parts of a political philosophy that are convenient to our world view. Etc.

Anyway, the birds – they get the ones I can’t reach, or won’t climb to, anyway. I go for the low-hanging fruit.

A few years ago, right around cherry picking time, I was telling a few of my colleagues much the same story, and mentioned that I go for the “low hanging fruit.” I then added, “Isn’t it interesting, how a business expression can be applied to a natural activity?”

No one laughed.

Author: Ray

Ray Gallon is president and co-founder of The Transformation Society (, a research, training and consulting company focusing on building learning organisations that can manage complexity and the digital transformation. He has over 40 years as a communicator, first as an award-winning radio producer and journalist, then in the technical content industries. His management experience includes a stint as program manager of WNYC-FM, New York City’s public radio station. Ray is a self-described "humanist nerd," and has always been interested in the meeting point between technology and culture, and has used his broad experience to advantage with companies such as IBM, General Electric Health Care, Alcatel, 3M, and the OECD, as well as in smaller companies and startup enterprises. Ray recently helped co-found the Information 4.0 Consortium ( and serves as its current president. Ray is a university lecturer and a keynote speaker at events throughout the world. He has contributed articles and chapters to many books and periodicals and is the editor of the recently published “Language of Technical Communication” (XML Press).

2 thoughts on “Cherries as Metaphor”

  1. I would argue that it’s the natural activity that has been stolen and then applied to the unnatural activity of easily amassing filthy lucre. Is “filthy lucre” redundant?

    Which came first; cherry picking or filthy lucre?

    We have a similar problem with our fig trees and birds. Not all figs ripen before the first frost and there are plenty left over for the silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis).

    1. Yes, that was the “ironic” point, wasn’t it? Actually, we have more problems with worms than birds. We have to choose: either take them a bit early and worm free, or wait for them to be really sweet and have to remove a worm from virtually every cherry. We usually take them early.

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