Everyone knows that stolen, taboo fruits taste better. It's a fact as old as history.
I have lived in my town for six years this past May and it was only two days ago that I discovered, in the park at the top of the hill, two mulberry trees. Perhaps being perched on a grassy hill and a little too close to their neighbor trees has made them reach for the sun and surpass the whole 'bush' thing. I wish the 'Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush' could have surpassed my head as well!
Usually when I walk in this park, I have my dogs with me and I'm concentrating more on them not pulling me head over heels down the hill rather than looking at the trees. But the other day, I walked up the hill with a bowl in my hand looking for the black raspberries (I've never been sure exactly what they are called--you can't find them in stores) and to my disappointment found three berries. They didn't even make it in the bowl; I immediately popped them in my mouth. As I trippingly stalked down the hill, a leaf brushed my face and I looked up. Mulberries! A great big tree full of plump, nearly black, juicy sweet mulberries. Where there's one tree there's often another and sure enough about ten feet away there was another. There were too many to pick in the time I had allowed myself and I decided to come back the next day.
The next day I passed my friends who live at the top of the hill. Cathy, of Intentional Stones, was in the middle of a task and couldn't stop to go berrying but her husband was able and willing. In the middle of picking Adam and I noticed the 'No Trespassing' sign and had to snap a picture of it. I'm not really sure just who the sign is intended for because lots of people who live in the immediate vicinity of this park use it to walk their dogs and themselves. Kids and dogs run in the grassy field at the top of the hill. It does seem that only the people who live on my block and a block to either side of mine seem to use the park. No one else in Edgewood seems aware of its existence. Maybe that's who the sign is for? Nonetheless, the borough workers drive by on the road at the bottom of the hill all the time and wave to us so the sign is very much an empty threat.
We picked berries for about twenty minutes or so before we had reached all that we could from the lower hanging boughs. The mulberries are so plentiful that the middle and higher ones belong to the birds and no one could mind sharing with them. It's very satisfying to 'find food' outside that is delicious and free with a little bit of work. Mulberries are easier to find and gather than morels were but it took me six years to realize that they were practically in my backyard!
I would like to attempt jam with the mulberries but I can't gather enough in one batch to do so. It would be easy to place blankets underneath the trees and give them a few hearty shakes to effortless drop the ripest ones but with the trees being on a hill that would never work. The berries would hit the blanket and roll right off! Ah well. I've just made strawberry jam and soon, my mother-in-law's grapes will be ready and I will make lots and lots of grape jelly.
The first batch of mulberries were tossed with twist of lemon juice, a bit of tapioca flour, a few grates of nutmeg and the scantest amount of sugar believable because they were already so sweet. I rolled out a circle of pie crust and gently folded the edges around the mound of mulberries before popping it in the oven to bake until the pastry was beginning to turn golden. Next, I think I'll make muffins. And then maybe ice cream.