Friday, August 14, 2015


I don't even remember how many mulberry trees we had on the farm.  The one on the fence row of the old orchard was the best, and closest to the house.  The one behind the pump house would do in a pinch, if I was playing in the corn crib and needed my fix.  The other trees tended to be scraggly, and most of the berries they bore were more pinkish than purple.  But I might eat them anyway, because they were mulberries, and they were there.

Because soon they would be gone.  Mulberries were at their ripest in June and July, the prime days of summer, when every day was a string of endless possibilities.  The farm had essentially ceased functioning as a farm around the time I was born, so the chicken coop, the barn, all the buildings and abandoned equipment were mine to do with as I would.  Of course a hay rack was made to be a pirate ship; what other purpose could it serve?

Then August would come, and the mulberries would be gone.  The whirr-whirr-whirr of cicadas and the Greene County Fair served as annual reminders that summer was coming to an end.  School would be starting again, and dread gnawed at my stomach.  Precious weeks, then days, were all that remained of my freedom.  But how could I enjoy them when I knew they had to end?

The very concept of things ending haunted me as a kid.  I was prone to depression, but not to philosophical musings, or I may have realized that it is the very fact that all happiness has a sell-by date is also the thing that makes it so precious.  Seasons, at least, are predictable.  We know when they will end.  Life itself is more wonderful than all the glorious days of summer, better even than a handful of mulberries, but it could all be over any time.

Which is OK.  Everything needs an ending.  And really, good things are lessened when they run too long.  (It's why the earlier, shorter James Bond movies are more satisfying.)  Trees change color, school starts again.  People grow older, people die.  But they were good while they were here, and we'll have fond memories, until it's our time to go, and hopefully others will have fond memories.

There's a mulberry tree in my back yard.  Everyday while it was in bloom, I would stop while taking the dog out and pluck some berries from the branches.  They were always delicious.