Thanks for the wonderful post!
As for the cherries, in truth, all is not lost! The leaves are unharmed and I use those for making fermented pickles! It is an old family recipe from my Lithuanian grandmother and requires either grape leaves or sour cherry leaves, which help make the pickles C*R*I*S*P as well as add a certain tartness which cannot be properly described! I was interested in your comments about your heritage because I am very proud of my Lith heritage... I am half Lith and my mother is the first generation born in this country. My mother is from NE Pennyslvania and that's how I ended up on these boards... looking to reverse engineer a pizza from my childhood. My mother and I spent many summers in Pennsy with my grandparents and we ate a lot of pizza from Tommy's (now Pizza L'oven) in Exeter, a small town in the Wyoming Valley near Scranton.
I did figure out that my cherry tree is a Montmorency... but your "pie cherry" tree could be any variety of sour cherry. I'm also glad you mentioned air layering because I have been trying to take softwood cuttings of my bay laurel bushes for my mother and daughter (rootone/sand, water) with no luck so far, so perhaps I'll try air layering next. I have a BS in Horticulture, so I'll have to revisit my 25 year-old notes from the propagation labs!
Sorry to hear about your grape crop... have you thought about making wine from your sour cherries instead? That's why I'm so bummed about losing the cherry crop, but I still have some in the freezer from last year... freezing is actually recommended to break down the cell walls and release more juice.
I understand your "ramblings" completely... I, myself, am a cook who flies by the seat of my pants most of the time! When baking bread, (and making wine and the like), I follow a basic recipe because to do otherwise would be a waste of time, unless I'm after making a hockey puck, doorstop or paperweight. But, otherwise, I seldom follow a recipe... my family sometimes gets frustrated because when they ask for a recipe, theirs doesn't always come out like mine! It's certainly not intentional, it's just that I seldom write down what I create and so sometimes, it's difficult to duplicate.
And, as for the wild yeast, I'm thinking that maybe, since the plums probably won't be ripe enough for almost a month, I may toast up some flour and mix it with some water and let it sit outside with a mesh bag over it that I use for winemaking... lets in the air, but is so fine that other junk... bugs... can't get in. I guess I'm just getting antsy to make some progress on my sourdough project. Yes, I'm after a true sourdough...I'm hoping that I can develop something with a nice, tangy sour flavor... something strong and active that will leaven my breads and pizza doughs without commercial yeast. Like I said in a previous post, you can see the bread in my avatar, made with my first go-round of capturing the beasties in my back yard.
When I get something going that is worth working with, I would be happy to send you some gratis if you would be willing to let me know how it worked for you in a bread and/or pizza application! What do you think?
And, lastly, I agree... life is too short... and food is both art and science. I, too, enjoy reading all the minute details of others' trials and errors, but I enjoy the art even more than the science! In the case of food, sometimes science is needed to create the art, but I'm still focused on the art!