Wednesday, June 11, 2008
'round and 'round the mulberry bush...
When we first moved in, in mid winter, we surveyed our yard and made preliminary plans for landscaping. One of the trees marked for removal was a little mulberry tree on the edge of our property. We figured it would be messy when it fruited, and it seemed like it was half dead anyway.
E was 5 at the time and just starting to climb trees. She would easily climb the dogwood in the front yard, but this tree was more of a challenge. She would grab hold of the lower branch and try to walk her feet up the side, but she didn't yet have the arm and leg strength to swing up into the branches. Still, she persisted.
When early summer came, the berries came out and E delighted in picking them, staining her hands and mouth with the bright purple juice. I learned to send her in clothes I didn't care about when she was going to go pick the berries.
Fall arrived, and E finally was able to climb into the tree and sit, tentatively but proudly in the lower branches of the tree. I insisted that she learn to get out of the tree herself before being allowed to climb it on her own. It took some maneuvering, and a little bit of courage as she had to simultaneously reach for the branch, twist her body, and jump from her seat (a sawed off portion of the trunk), as the branch was just barely out of reach of a firm two-handed grasp. Then she would swing for a few seconds before dropping the final foot and a half to the grass. From that point on, the tree was hers. We never thought about cutting it down again, she loved it so. It was a place for her to get away from her younger brother, as well as a quiet perch for imagination and contemplation.
Each summer she has looked forward to the return of the berries. A few weeks ago the hard green berries popped through the branches, and soon they turned a dusty pink, bright red and now they are a ripe, juicy black. Yesterday the kids picked a whole container full of berries and then joyfully ate them together. Their feet were stained from the berries they crushed underfoot while picking, and their hands, mouth and teeth also turned purple from their feast.
Unfortunately for E her private reign of her tree ended this spring. N has longingly watched E play in the tree, begging me to put him up there, but my rule has been that no one is allowed in the tree who can't get their on their own strength and skill. So he has studied the trunk and climbed the roots, straining to reach the lowest branch. Finally, he was able to pull himself up to that sawed off trunk-seat and sit there. I ran out to take a picture to capture the moment, and his pride is all over his face. He then learned how to swing down, in the same way E had learned a year and a half before. Since then the two of them have climbed the tree together, sitting in its branches.
I know it won't be long before K will be stationed on the roots, gazing up, yearning to join her siblings in the mulberry tree.