The 7th of the month seems to come round ever more quickly when you are joining in with Lucy’s tree following meme at Looseandleafy. It is time to take another look at the Mulberry tree which grows on the village meadow known as the croft. Now it is August so at last the fruit is ripening.
It doesn’t ripen all at once but over a period of about three weeks. The berries are ready to eat when they are dark red, almost black. They look rather like loganberries or elongated blackberries. I have looked up the best way to pick them and one source suggested that you lay a sheet under the tree and shake it. Well this is not possible here for several reasons. First of all the tree has several trunks springing from wherever it has fallen down, rather than one central trunk. Anyway, it would be rather disrespectful to shake a tree that is nearly 500 years old.
The other reason is that one likes to be a bit discreet about one’s picking. Quite a few people do pick the fruit but you never see them doing it. They will invite you round and proudly show off their mulberry jam. They will invite you to dinner and give you mulberry crumble for pudding. But for some reason, they don’t like you to see them actually picking the fruit. The only people you ever see walking boldy across the croft with their plastic containers are people who don’t live here. They seem to be quite oblivious to the outrage this causes. I’m afraid we are very possessive about our tree. We think that only people of Groton should be picking the fruit and even then, it is something you do when nobody else is around. Perhaps at dawn or just before it gets dark. I’m not sure of the reason for this secrecy. Perhaps people are worried that anyone seeing them will think they are taking more than their share, or maybe they think that if anyone sees them they will realise that the fruit is ripe. Today, I boldly went in broad daylight with my camera and my plastic container hidden in a bag.I don’t think anyone saw me. The trouble is there is a fence all the way round the tree. It is difficult to scale this unless you have very long legs or are good at vaulting.
I suppose you could lie on the ground and roll under, but that is not very dignified at my age, even if there is no one looking. Anyway I managed this hurdle and started picking. Mulberry picking is a very messy job. If the fruit is not quite ripe enough it doesn’t come off but turns to a red squishy mess in your fingers. I generally seem to turn to Billy the Bard when writing about my mulberry tree and today is no exception. He knew all about this turning to squish as you will know if you are familiar with Corialanus:
‘Thy stout heart
Now humble as the ripest mulberry
That will not hold the handling’
I am not suggesting that Corialanus is my night time reading of choice. It is my least favourite of Shakespeare’s plays.
Apart from the general squishiness, there are big fat meat flies and wasps all over them . I was glad when I had a container full.
I had to scale the fence again and then walk nonchalantly across the croft. A neighbour was walking her dog so I approached her humming a little tune and stopped to chat. My plastic container was safely concealed in my bag. Whilst we were talking I noticed she kept looking at my hands.
Whoops, caught red-handed. I don’t know why I feel awkard, there is a suspicious square bulge in her bag.