Towards the end of Thief of Time is this passage:

Lu-Tze went back to his sweeping. After a while, he smiled at a memory. An apprentice gives a gift to the master, eh? As if Lu-Tze could want anything that Time could give him . . .
And he stopped, and looked up, and laughed out loud.
Overhead, swelling as he watched, the cherries were ripening.

Were the cherries referenced earlier in the story; perhaps it was one area of the garden that Lu-Tze had not managed to grow in the way he wanted, but with Lobsang's "help" they now had the time they needed? Or is there a deeper meaning to this that is eluding me?

2 Answers 2


It's mentioned on several occasions earlier in the book that Wen froze the valley's garden into what he considers to be a single perfect moment:

A few cherry blossom petals drifted down onto Wen's head from one of the trees that grew wild along the streamlets.
“And this perfect day will last for ever,” he said. “The air is crisp, the sun is bright, there is ice in the streams. Every day in this valley will be this perfect day.”
“Could get a bit repetitive, master,” said Clodpool.

Lobsang's gift to his master (someone who's spent more than 800 years of his unnaturally long life sweeping up the blossoms) was to finally allow the trees to ripen, giving him the greatest gift of all; a genuine surprise.

A breeze blew the scent of cherry blossom. Just once, thought Lu-Tze, it would be nice to pick cherries.


Lu-Tze had been right, Lobsang knew. Time was a resource. You could learn to let it move fast or slow, so that a monk could walk easily through a crowd and yet be moving so fast that no one could see him. Or he could stand still for a few seconds, and watch the sun and moon chase one another across a flickering sky. He could meditate for a day in a minute. Here, in the valley, a day lasted for ever. Blossom never became cherries.

Hat tip to @Murphy for finding a better quote

  • Ah, fantastic - wish I'd got that connection when I finished it last night! Jul 14, 2015 at 7:50
  • 6
    Also cherries. So instead of endless sweeping up the blossoms you can finally eat the fruit.
    – Zikato
    Jul 14, 2015 at 14:18
  • Appreciate the extra edits. I guess having young kids and getting a chance to read perhaps 10 mins a night means you don't remember too much about some of the finer details :) Jul 14, 2015 at 19:12

They were referenced earlier. Lu-Tze has few wishes but Lobsang still found something he actually wanted.

A breeze blew the scent of cherry blossom. Just once, thought Lu-Tze, it would be nice to pick cherries.

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