I had the patience to pick enough dewberries to take home for a cobbler, but if I ever picked a mulberry that made it into the house, it was a rare occasion. I love mulberries. Even today I will stand in the yard picking every berry I can reach and savoring each one on the spot. There are never enough. I learned today, reading in Texas Tress, A Friendly Guide, by Paul W. Cox and Patty Leslie, that the tender green shoots can be eaten as a vegetable. Now I've been a fan of native plants for a long time, and I've tasted all kinds of native fodder, but this is the first I've heard of eating anything from the mulberry tree other than berries. I will definitely be giving this new vegetable a try.
As I work my way through the building of this new Leaf Collection, I am struck by how abundant our life on the farm was. We were poor, and my parents worked incredibly hard to provide for us, but I don't remember feeling poor. As a teenager, when I had to settle for off brand basketball shoes rather than Converse high-tops, then I had a pretty good idea that we were poor, but as a youngster what I remember are freedom and abundance. We were free to explore as far and as wide as we pleased. It never mattered whose land we were on, and no one ever worried about our safety. If we were needed at home, Mama would blow the horn on the truck. If we were within earshot, we knew to come home. If we weren't close enough to hear, we'd eventually find our way home in time for supper.
The world we explored was full and rich - woods & meadows, grasses, trees, & wildflowers, ponds, pets, farm animals, wildlife. There was no end of interesting things to seek out, no limit to our imagination. We were kings and queens of our own universe. Even carrying a drink of water to Daddy as he plowed a field, the smell and feel of the freshly turned black earth was a joy. I learned the word hosanna in Sunday School, and I remember making up my own hosannas as I walked on summer days full of grateful joy. I wish that children today had more of that wonderful autonomy.