There are two mulberry trees in the backyard. Last year I was a little obsessed with them. I picked every one I could reach, using a garden rake to pull the branches down to my level. I laid tarps on the ground and shook the tree branches, gathering up the fallen berries and stashing them away in the freezer. When I was walking Hannah, I’d look for other mulberry trees (not in anyone’s yard, of course!) and gather up their plump, juicy berries.
When I was a kid there was a tree on the edge of what we called, “The Avalanche” on our property. It was actually an area where dirt had been excavated, which left behind ‘cliffs’ that were great for jumping off, crevices that created places to hide, and of course, the occasional falling dirt and rocks, which is how it got it’s name. We worked up an appetite with all that physical activity and used to eat the berries to stave off hunger that might force us to leave the pleasures of outside and return to the house where there might be chores lurking.
One summer we kids picked about one million berries and my Mom made mulberry jam. It seemed to take forever to crush the berries and extract the juice to produce the dark purple liquid that eventually turned into some of the most delicious jam I have ever had the pleasure of eating. It was probably a lot of work in comparison to the amount of jam we got, because I don’t remember my Mom ever making it again.
Today I made a smoothie out of my freezer stash: two peaches (left from the 42 pounds I picked last summer), a half a banana, and at least a cup of mulberries. It was a rich shade of purple – so thick I had to eat it with a spoon. It was fantastic and I enjoyed every spoonful of it.
I’m not going to be picking and freezing berries this year. While I do think it is important to put food by during the spring, summer and fall for the long winter months, there are some things that I just want to enjoy in the season, in this moment. To be honest, I haven’t done a great job of eating what I have put by as I’ve shared in earlier posts and I want to be more deliberate about eating what I have. The fact that it is now mulberry season and I still have two bags of berries in the freezer is telling.
It’s rained a lot this week, which makes the berries taste like they’ve been freshly washed and slightly cooled, making them even more delicious than usual. It seems like people don’t plant these beauties much anymore – their berries do leave a mess behind if they happen to fall on your car or deck. Even so, I hope I always live somewhere we’re there’s a mulberry tree in the yard, ready to share it’s spring bounty.