Monday, June 14, 2010

The Sound of Moving in the Mulberry Trees

It's Marvelous Monday and our mulberries are ripe! Their sweet purple juiciness is something I look forward to all year-round. It's hard to explain why mulberries are so special to me.

I think the birds have a good idea without me saying a word.

And I know that my siblings completely understand.

But I'll try to put it into words so that you, too, can understand. We grew up on a fruit farm. As kids we knew we could eat any and all the fruit that we wanted, but primarily, the fruit was there for us to sell. It was our family business and our family depended on that income to survive. So we ate fruit like little piggies, but we also worked hard picking baskets of sweet cherries, peaches and plums, quarts of strawberries, bushels of grapes and apples, and wooden crates of sour cherries and pears.

When you're a kid and it's hot outside, picking fruit can seem like an endless day and a horrible chore. Looking back, I think we had idyllic childhood summers where we ran barefoot and free, feasting on the goodness of the earth with the frequent addition of huge bowls of ice-cream. I can close my eyes today and nostalgically conjure up in an instant the amazing taste of a fresh juicy peach warm from the sun, with it's tangy honey flavour and think to myself that it is truly indescribable. But back then, I was covered in itchy peach fuzz and sticky juice that had a way of insidiously creeping into the inside creases of our elbows, playing havoc with heat rash on a hot, humid summer day. And it didn't seem so grand.

Except - the mulberry tree. Our mulberry tree was the one tree on our farm that wasn't part of the economic equation. We didn't pick its fruit to sell for the family business. It was ours, all ours. Although, if we wanted to, as kids, this was one tree from which we were allowed to pick fruit and sell if we wanted to make some money to keep for ourselves. But mainly we just picked the mulberries for us, to eat fresh or to make mulberry pie, mulberry jam, or mulberry cheesecake.

Our mulberry tree was quite close to our house, not out in an orchard, lined up with other rows of trees.  Often in the evening after supper, we would all gather around the mulberry tree and have dessert. It was hot in our old farm house and we had no air-conditioning so by evening, it was actually considerably cooler outside.  The tree was big enough that we could all find a spot to eat and not really be in each other's space. We would gorge ourselves on mulberries until our mouths and hands and t-shirts were covered in purple.  It was a little slice of heaven on earth.

My dad pulled out the mulberry tree a number of years ago because it was putting too much shade on his strawberry patch. He figured since all of us kids had long moved out, nobody would mind. We were horrified! The sacred mulberry tree was gone. I think my dad has regretted taking it out from pretty much the moment he did it. Even the next generation down was upset as my oldest nieces had already started to appreciate the mulberry tree and all it had to offer. For years I would walk by the space where the mulberry tree had been, and shake my head in grief at its loss.

So, can you imagine my delight when I visited my husband's house for the first time and discovered this?

A gigantic mulberry tree! Bigger even than the one we had, this beauty was planted by my father-in-law who adored mulberries. How wonderful to discover that my husband's family had the same love for mulberries as mine! I love that my siblings and nieces now eagerly await my phone call to let them know that our mulberries are ripe once again.  When I walk out of my house at this time of the year, I never know if I might find one of my brothers with two or three kids tagging along, standing under my mulberry tree happily eating.  And when my husband comes home from work, he doesn't come into the house right away.  Instead he stands under the tree for a while and has a mulberry feast as an appetizer for his dinner.  Even my dogs love the mulberries and if will either graze on the ones that fall to the ground or jump up to pick them with their mouths from the lowest branches.

So today, on Marvelous Monday, I am so thankful for our mulberry tree.  I've never been sure what it refers to in the Bible but I know that the "sound of moving in the mulberry trees" in our case, is the sound of joyful feasting, either of humans or birds or animals, all happy to enjoy the fruit of a wonderful tree.


  1. I'm afraid my knowledge of mulberries begins and ends with that song we'd sometimes sing on the playground. I've never picked a mulberry, much less eaten one - I don't even know if there's a place around here that sells them - but I'll be sure to keep my eyes open for mulberries in the future. Clearly, I don't know what I've been missing!

  2. I've never even seen a mulberry...but I love this story and the image of you all standing under the tree eating dessert.

  3. Mr Brown & I had a twisted, weeping mulberry tree at our first house. I loved it, lavished it with water and attention in the summer and we even carefully planned a renovation around it. We shared it's fruit with tiny birds, Silvereyes, and stained our feet purple walking aroud and around it, feasting on the fruit. I miss that tree.

  4. American tourist, thanks for stopping by my blog. I can't believe I forgot about that song! I popped over to your blog to check it out and left you a comment.

    Liza, I'm surprised you don't have mulberries where you live. They grow wild around here although I think they were originally introduced from Europe. However, you do have loads of cranberry bogs to make up for the lack of mulberries. :)

    Mrs. Brown Mouse, I love having purple feet from my mulberries. :D I'll have to google Silvereyes, I've never heard of those little birds but the name sounds very intriguing.

  5. I am sorry I missed this one yesterday. What wonderful memories. Great story.

  6. You always have the best stories and that is so cool how you came to have another Mulberry Tree. We used to have one where we lived in the midwest, but I seem to remember it was the one that made the birds drunk. Have you every heard of that? ~Lili



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