The mulberry tree is heavy with deep purple fruits, each day more ripen and are ready for harvest by me and the many birds and squirrels and chipmunks who can climb the tree and the possum and raccoons and other small creatures who wait for them to fall.
I have three mulberry trees in my yard, and leave the other two entirely for the birds and other animals. This one, however, greets me as I walk down the steps from my deck, inspiring in all seasons.
But when the harvest is ready, as the berries slowly ripen, the branches reach lower and lower until their tips touch the ground, the berries are where I can simply reach out to pick them. No other tree I know of does this. I feel as if this mulberry wants me to have its berries.
So I spread a cloth in the grass and shake the branches gently, gathering the ones ripe enough to fall into the cloth. Each day for a week or more I fill my cloth.
From here they go into the stainless steel bowl, and from this bowl to the largest one I have, in the refrigerator, and when the time is right they will become jelly or wine or vinegar or just plain purple juice, great for baking and flavoring things.
The tree also brings its friends, the silkworm caterpillar, which traditionally feeds on mulberry leaves and spins its coccoons near the trees.
So comforting to see every year. Some think the trees, which grow liberally from seeds the birds have dropped, are pests, but the birds and I are happy.
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