The Mulberry Tree

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This is not a botanical dissertation. It is not an advertisement of fruit trees. I claim no academic knowledge concerning the subject. It is not a cookbook or a health issue or a devotional. It is not a poem or an essay or a short story. I have no intention of trying to make you a lover of mulberries or to persuade you even to bake a mulberry pie or tart.

I simply want to tell you about my mulberry tree I discovered just this week.

We’ve been so busy moving in and adjusting ourselves and our furniture, pictures and other belongings to our new place that I hadn’t studied every tree in the backyard. But I noticed several times in coming and going that squirrels and birds really were doing acrobatic performances in this one particularly graceful tree. Squirrels sometimes inched to the ends of very limber limbs and then all but fell trying to get something that was obviously very important to them.

I finally set out to find out what the important things were in that tree. That’s when I found it was loaded with the most interesting berries I’d ever seen. Similar to blackberries in size, but not as black. Very juicy when I tried to pick one, softer than a blackberry. Knowing I’d found no dead squirrels around, I deduced the berries must not be poisonous. I tasted one. Delicious! I went for another and another. I began to get excited. What did we have here?

In the yard where we lived across town we had satsumas, oranges, figs, blueberries, kumquats, and pecans. Here, we didn’t have the first fruit tree, I thought. Until I discovered this beautiful tree on the inside of our circular driveway. I brought some berries in to show my guys, my husband and 19-year-old grandson.

My grandson, who is not botanically inclined, immediately guessed those might be mulberries. I was duly impressed. (He must have listened when I sang “Here We Go Around the Mulberry Bush”!!!) His granddaddy agreed that maybe Charles D was right, but said he didn’t know enough to make a guess.

I broke a branch and brought it to my computer so I could compare leaves, fruit, arrangement of same to examples on internet. It seemed like a good match, even to the fact that the leaves vary on mulberry trees, of which there are about twenty species worldwide. Leaves may be lobed or not, smooth on top or hairy. The berries can be red or black or stages approaching those including a stage on nearly all mulberries when they are white.

I had just decided that the next thing I would do would be to find a recipe for making mulberry pie.

That’s when Sally came over to pray with me about some urgent needs in our families. As she got out of her vehicle, she called out to me (this is the honest truth), “I’ve just made a mulberry pie and we ate nearly the whole thing. Natalia and Clay brought me some.”
My mouth dropped open. I hadn’t heard until then of anyone in our neighborhood or town who was either growing, harvesting, cooking, or eating mulberries.

I do remember one little mulberry tree in the meadow of Pinedale where I grew up. We had picnics around it. I don’t remember there ever being anything on it!

Needless to say, I did get a recipe and proceeded out to the tree to pick mulberries. I needed three cups. After trying from the ground, I hauled a step ladder out. Perched precariously, I tried to snag enough berries to make a pie while birds and squirrels began to protest. After twenty minutes all I had were about a dozen berries. I surveyed the situation again and got down off the ladder. I believe that tree belongs to the birds and the squirrels. I’d rather not have that pie than to end up in the hospital with a broken back. I brought in what I had and they were very delicious on cheerios for breakfast this morning!

Have at it, squirrels and birds! I’ll just enjoy your acrobatic shows and forego the mulberry pie–unless some kind, adventurous soul wants to share some with me!

P.S. Thanks, Sally, for the “out-of-this-world” slice of mulberry pie Charles and I each enjoyed at your house last night after church! The taste is milder than blackberries, a subtle, soothing taste. I may, after all, have to try again to pick mulberries. Sally said Natalia and Clay drove their truck under the limbs. Sounds like a good thing to try.

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