Monday, June 23, 2008
For the record, mulberries are edible.
Having arrived early for my writing class and not wanting to wait in the hot car, I decided to explore a nearby park on the Hudson River. Three young boys with ball gloves hanging from their handlebars pedaled past me as I walked along the shaded road. Drawn by the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle, I ambled over to a copse of trees. I stood in the dappled shade taking in deep lungsful of the sweet smell trying to make an olfactory memory for the long winter months ahead. Looking up I saw that the trees supporting the vines were mulberry and that the fruit was ripening. Reaching up I pulled off a few berries, rolling their sweet-tart flavor around on my tongue. I fell back in time to my youth when we ate the warm berries from the trees and used their rich purple juice as “lipstick”.
The boys came back up the street obviously disappointed from whatever mission they had been on. One of them saw me plucking fruit from the tree and shouted “Hey lady, you can’t eat those, they are poisonous.” I looked over at them. “No they’re not,” I shouted, “these are mulberries.” Curious, they rode over to look at the tree. “How do you know?” I plucked ripe berries from the tree, putting the purple fruit in their sweaty hands. They watched carefully as I ate some more then nibbled on the berries. Surprised, they looked at me like was I wise woman, sprung from the ground. ”They’re good!” One boy play-punched another, “You said they were poisonous.” I took the opportunity to talk with them about eating things in the wild and being careful to know exactly what it was before putting it on their mouths. We talked about mulberries, examined the leaves and the fruit. They pedaled off, their hands and mouths stained purple. Smiling, I walked back toward class with purple “lipstick.”