What a surprise it was to stand under the tree in the backyard one morning and look up at little misshapen berries, turning the first blush of ripening pink. We’d moved into the apartment last September, after the last of any berries had already fallen from the tree, and being inexperienced botanists, had written the tree off as just another rambling Brooklyn shrub that managed to make it to adulthood, to spite polluted rain and urban sprawl. But here it was, growing berries. Fat and dark purple, like stretched-out blackberries. Armed with a berry and a leaf, I tried to look up the fruit online. Searches for “ugly blackberry” or “black berry growing on tree” turned up nothing. In hopes that it wasn’t poisonous, I ate the fruit.
The flavor was sweet and ripe, almost like bubblegum and so full of juice it burst open like a water balloon as I bit into it. After waiting a few hours without experiencing any death-like symptoms, I went outside and plucked berry after berry off the branches and ate them straight from the tree. I was reminded of being twelve, of standing along the fence in my childhood garden and grabbing raspberries, blackberries, and currants from bushes and stuffing them straight into my mouth.
When I couldn’t eat another berry, I’d pick a container full and freeze it, so that as fall approached, I could still sit in front of the television, popping frozen berries in my mouth.
A berry is never as nice as when it’s picked directly from the bush, and even nicer when its unexpected. Mulberries, say my neighbors, are what’s growing on the trees. I had always imagined mulberries to be sour, prickly things. I don’t know why – I’ve never even eaten anything mulberry flavored nor even seen a mulberry live. » Continue reading this post…