The Mulberry Tree 7.8.14.

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Whoops, caught red-handed. I don’t know why I feel awkard, there is a suspicious square bulge in her bag.

 

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53 Responses to The Mulberry Tree 7.8.14.

  1. snowbird says:

    I am sorely tempted to visit just to snaffle some fruit, and I would be as bold as brass being a visitor AND a Scouser an all!!! Oh what a marvelous post, how I wish we had a tree like that, not only because it’s amazing but also because of all the subterfuge that goes on around it! I can’t stop laughing….brilliant stuff, utterly brilliant!!! xxx

    • Chloris says:

      Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it. I wish you would come and snaffle some fruit. I would tell everyone to turn a blind eye as it’ s you. Then you could come and have scones and mulberry jam with me in the garden.

      • snowbird says:

        Oooooh…How honoured I would be to visit your garden, and of course I wouldn’t tut like Jenny!
        You should write this up and send it to radio 4….I’m sure they would snap it up and produce it as a short story, honestly, it is that good! xxx

  2. Benjamin says:

    I chuckled out loud at the picture of you “red-handed.” Well-played!

  3. Cathy says:

    LOL! A lovely tale about your tree! So did you make a crumble? Or were they just enjoyed as they were? Do they taste like blackberrries?

  4. bittster says:

    heh heh, you never cease to amaze me as to where you go with this mulberry tree, it’s amazing! As usual fantastic post, and as usual I learned something without even having to think too hard.
    Very upstanding of your neighbor to not notice the hands. That’s why there’s hope for our world 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      But she did notice my hands, she was staring at them. But obviously it’ s not done to mention these things.
      I don’ t really know where I am going next with this mulberry tree following, eventually I shall run out of things to say.

  5. linniew says:

    Oh Chloris, you could have a bright future in crime. I completely enjoyed your understated humor regarding the local folks gathering the harvest in secret, and that red hand made me laugh out loud- – but then I feared, for a moment, you might be suspected of murder. Such fun reading, and good work finding an on-target quote from that writer guy I love. I did have to look up “croft” online and I’m still not completely clear on it. A farm with a house? Let me know… And I am another reader who is wondering what came next for the amazing harvest.

    • Chloris says:

      Oh no, it doesn’t look like blood does it? I never thought of that. That’s where the expression ‘caught red- handed’ comes from.
      A croft is usually a small farm, specially in Scotland. It can also mean an encosed piece of land. I don’ t know why this is called The Croft, it’s not really a Suffolk word. A piece of land in Suffolk is usually called a Pyghtle.

  6. Christina says:

    Brilliant, Chloris, brilliant!

  7. Chloris says:

    Thanks Christina, I’ m glad you enjoyed it.

  8. Thanks for a really interesting post.
    Your writing has such a lovely tone to it, Chloris. I was smiling at parts like this one: “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.”

  9. Alain says:

    It seems instinctive to feel that picking on common property should be done discretely. I wonder why. I help a friend who makes a garden at a school and has the children participate. She invites parents over the summer to pick vegetables their children have planted but they were very reluctant to do so in the first years. They are getting bolder now or at least someone is.
    Here today was black currant jam making day. Hands were not red as yours but pots and spoons were covered with a beautiful scarlet film.

    • Chloris says:

      I suppose we all worry in case other people think we are being greedy.
      Blackcurrant jam is lovely and you do get messy picking them. But nothing stains as badly as mulberries because it is impossible to pick them without squashing them.

  10. Tee hee–enjoyed your humor in this post. We have two Mulberry trees–one here at home, and one at the cottage. The berries on this one always seem too high to reach, but the one at the cottage has berry-laden branches closer to eye level, and it seems to get more productive every year. My hands never get quite that messy. 😉 But maybe it’s because it’s a different species so the berries pull off easier. In any case, the berries are so tasty! They ripen right around the time our Black Raspberries do (early to mid-July), so I usually combine them (and sometimes add Blueberries) for a tasty berry crunch! Yum! Enjoy your bounty!

    • Chloris says:

      I wonder if your tree is Morus rubra which is native over there? I think it fruits earlier than this one which is Morus nigra. But I expect the fruit is just as delicious

  11. Aquileana says:

    Marvelous post… Lovely trees and I bet those mulberries are delicious…

    Best wishes to you, Aquileana 😛

  12. Chloris says:

    Thank you for your nice comment. Yes, the Mulberries are delicious and particularly special as you can’ t buy them anywhere.

  13. coastcard says:

    What a great post! You caused a wry smile … My earliest memories of a mulberry tree centre around Eynsford in Kent, where there was a tree we always visited when we went to Lullingstone Roman Villa (one of my favourite childhood haunts, with animal paw-prints imprinted in the Roman tiles). I always longed to see a silkworm …

    http://carolinegillwildlife.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/tree-following-silver-birch-in-august.html

  14. Chloris says:

    Thank you, I am always fascinated by Roman remains. There had been a Roman villa in a field near where I used to live and I often found bits of tile or glass.
    You wouldn’ t have seen silkworms on Morus nigra, you need a warmer climate for Morus alba if you want silkworms.

  15. Flighty says:

    A good tree following post, and that last picture made me smile, talk about being caught ‘red-handed’!
    I have to say that I prefer raspberries and blackberries to these. xx

  16. Around here, mulberries are considered something of a trash tree that springs up in vacant lots and along alleys, though maybe they are a different species from your venerable tree. Years ago we lived in an apartment that looked out over an alley that had lots of mulberries, and our kids would climb the trees and eat the berries. Only birds and children would touch the fruit, though, and the children would return home mostly purple. In parks and natural areas the mulberries are very unwelcome.

  17. Chloris says:

    I think you are talking about Morus rubra, your native mulberry tree. Morus nigra is a much more refined sort of tree.

  18. Very funny! As my mother says “be sure your sins will find you out”! Not really a sin though. They look delicious, what are you going to be making? Will it be the crumble or the jam?

  19. Cathy says:

    So, which was it – the long legs, vaulting over (for which long legs would also be useful), or rolling under? You can’t leave us in suspense, Chloris – or do we have to just read (between) the lines on your bloodied hand? I have to admit to having a slightly soft spot for poor neglected Corialanus as he helped me towards a good English Lit A level mark – not that I remember much (ahem…any?) of it after all this time… 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      I certainly didn’ t roll under, so a combination of a vault and a scramble. As a life long avoider of sport of any kind, I amaze myself sometimes.
      But Coriolanus is such a nasty bit of work, as surely you can remember from your studies just a very few years ago.

      • Cathy says:

        ‘Just a very few’ ? ….cough cough 🙂 But yes, a soft spot for the play, rather than the character ps vaulting sounds a bit ambitious for someone who has spent their (short) life avoiding sport 😉

  20. gardenfancyblog says:

    What a fun post! I had no idea mulberries are such a rare treat there — we have to cut them out of our windbreaks constantly, like weeds (although we do keep one large tree at the corner of our property, for snacking). Thanks so much for sharing your very compelling story of being caught red-handed. -Beth

    • Chloris says:

      I think your weedy mulberries are your native Morus rubra. This one is Morus nigra which is native to China. It never seems to seed around like yours do.

  21. Pauline says:

    Fantastic post, so amusing! The things we get up to in the countryside. Thanks for such an amusing tale!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Pauline. If it wasn’ t for this tree watching I probably wouldn’t t have noticed that the mulberries are ripe. I think I got in there ahead of most of the secret pickers.

  22. Hollis says:

    nice post — generated chuckles, always good! I knew so little about mulberries before you started your post series. Maybe they don’t grow in the USA, though we often sang of them as children: “here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush” etc.

    • Chloris says:

      You have a native mulberry: Morus rubra. This one Morus nigra comes from China. The nursery rhyme: Here we go round the Mulberry Bush originated in Yorkshire where prisoners at Wakefield Jail used to exercise by walking round and round a Mulberry tree which grew in the prison yard.

  23. Hilarious! I love the idea of furtive mulberry picking, and the red hands giveaway is priceless. As to it being “villagers only”, I’d feel that way too. I wonder if there is a Facebook page advertising locations and dates of mulberry trees ripe for picking, and a band of proud mulberry picking afficianados unaware of the angst and anger they are leaving in their wake as they tour the country?

  24. Lovely to see your mulberry fruiting. And amusingly recounted!

  25. I’ve only just realised I had no idea what mulberries looked like – mentally I had them in the same class as figs and quinces! I’ll remember now I’ve seen your vivid pictures…
    All the best 🙂

  26. Anna says:

    As always your monthly tales of the mulberry leave me with a smile on my face Chloris. There does not look enough for jam there, unless you had another secret stash about your person, so how did you consume them apart from stealithy?

  27. Chloris says:

    No I didn’ t pick enough for jam. But they are in the freezer now and I am going to make a crumble for a family Sunday lunch. I might not have enough so I will have to creep back and pick some more.

  28. Near where I live there are damsons. I used to make jam with them. Many fell to the ground un-used. Then a couple of people decided to pick them on an industrial scale – using long-handled . . . clippers? . . . pickers? Now there are none on the ground. None are wasted. Yet it seems all wrong. I’d rather we all had a few pots of jam and the insects had a festival of rotten fruit than one family got everything. Have never dared say anything. Just walk past their industry feeling bolshy and cross.

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