Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Here we go round the Mullberry Bush

Picking fresh berries in the woods is a delightful way to spend a morning hour! When looking for mulberries, note that they tend to grow on not bushes, but very tall trees. (If you have a mulberry bush, or think you may, and don't eat every last berry, please invite us over, so we can come pick them for you!) We did, however, find some medium-sized mulberry trees on a steep hill, which helped us pick them. I used a long stick to pull down high branches to my low hobbit-height, and for Gibbie to reach.

The berries did "color my han," as Gibbie put it. For a day or two the evidence of our forage-ery remained.

The best part about berrying was simply being in the woods, pulling berries off a tree and slipping them in our baskets. There is something so beautiful about gathering. This abundant surplus of the tree; her gift to us. Finding our food, delicious fruits, in a place so beautiful. We also had the joy of being together, of helping one another, and of using what would otherwise fall to the ground. (for any conservationists, don't worry-- we left plenty of fruit for the forest animals, etc!)

I put plenty of red mulberries in the pie, but they're best when almost black. Their flavor is sweet and mild, not tart at all like most berries. Perfect for children. Very unripe berries are white. As they ripen, they turn creamy, pink, and red, by turns, finally darkening into a deep purple.
Mulberry leaves come in different shapes on the same tree. Some leaves are plain, like the one above, while others have one lobe, like a mitten, and some have two lobes. I'm watching sidewalks for purple stains as I try and locate unloved trees; I want more berries. We first found ripe berries on this tree almost a month ago, and this week there seemed to be many more berries left unripe than ripe, so they seem to have a long season this year.

Qualification: I mentioned Samuel Thayer's book, Forager's Harvest, a few posts ago. I am still enamored with it; he writes so well, and the information is so practical and thorough. In no way do I want to set myself out as a teacher on wild foods; I'm just sharing here my enthusiasm over our foray into the forest. The aforementioned book doesn't cover mulberries, but my tools for harvesting were inspired by him.

A few days after berrying, Gibbie randomly asked, "Who is God?" Knowing I wouldn't be able to give even the beginning of a complete answer, I started by talking to him about how God made everything. He offered, "the Sun?" Yes, we listed some more things, "...and Mulberries?" Yes! He was getting excited now, and danced around the room a bit, "and Dibbie and Mama and Evra!!"
Yes, Gibbie, I too am so glad that he made berries for us to pick, and made me and you and your brother. Such good good gifts.
You visit the earth and water it,
you load it with riches;
God's rivers brim with water
to provide their grain.

This is how you provide it;
by drenching its furrows, by levelling its ridges,
by softening it with showers, by blessing the first-fruits.
You crown the year with your bounty,
abundance flows wherever you pass;
the desert pastures overflow,
the hillsides are wrapped in joy,
the meadows are dressed in flocks,
the valleys are clothed in wheat,
what shouts of joy, what singing!

from psalm 65

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gibbie's comments about God are awesome. I am going to read them to my class tomorrow morning. Goes exactly with what we've been talking about.

On Sunday in church with Gibbie, I mentioned as i was kneeling to pray and he looked at me, that I was praying.
Gibbie: "what's praying?"
Me: "Praying means talking to God."
Gibbie: "I just listen."

Hmm... a little child shall lead them.