Saturday, March 26, 2011
One of my best summer memories is of eating mulberries. There was a mulberry tree in the yard one of the houses where lived when I was in grade school. I can't remember now who first told me what kind of tree it was or that the fruit was good to eat. Perhaps it is just one of those things that a child knows. In any case I remember that my brothers and I would climb up into the branches of the tree and plan adventures while we ate mulberries. Sometimes I climbed the tree alone. I always climbed as high as I could because the best and the sweetest fruit is always at the top of the tree. Then I sat on the branch I had chosen while leaning back against the trunk of the tree. I remember the fresh, sweet, and tart flavor of the fruit as it burst in my mouth and the sway of the branches as the tree moved in the breeze. I was mesmerized by the sound of the wind and the play of the light and green shadows dancing against my skin. When I came down my hands and face were always stained with the black juice of the berry. At the end of the day my brothers and I jumped down from the tree when we saw our father's car turn into the driveway. The first thing he said when he saw us was "I told you not to eat those berries, you'll get worms! Mulberries are for birds, not people." I guess we never really believed him because we kept eating the berries.
There is a mulberry tree growing outside my apartment. The pavement of the parking lot is covered with the pulp of smashed berries. It is a different variety than the one from my childhood and at first that kept me from identifying it correctly. The fruit is a greenish white in color indicating that it is an Asian mulberry instead of a black mulberry but the fruit is just as sweet as I remember. The branches are too high for me to reach easily and too thin to support my adult weight. I can only reach the berries hanging from the lowest boughs. I horrified my neighbors today by carrying my step ladder out so that I could reach more berries. They warned me that I would get worms if I ate those berries and they are now convinced that I am crazy. It was worth it though; they were delicious!