Friday, May 28, 2010

Mulberries and Memorial Day

IMG_0211, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
This morning, as I made my walk from the house to downtown Morgantown to begin a day of planning, writing, and strategy for Nuru I walked by a mulberry tree. Of course I walk by this tree along with a few others every day, but right now, mulberries are on the tree and fully ripe. Mulberries are a personal favorite of mine because they take me back to the place I grew up on 15th street in Parkersburg, WV. I filled my mouth with a small handful of mulberries, closed my eyes for a moment, and I was carried back to my childhood home.
When I was small, I can remember there being a concrete walkway in the back of our house (I’ve heard that this house was once a farmhouse, and being that it was built with a root cellar, I tend to believe it). That concrete walkway would get stained with mulberries every spring. It was one of the prime indicators that the school year was about to end, and my summertime fun was about to ensue.
I don’t think my mom ever made pies from the mulberries (we had a small grove of cherry trees on our land that we used for pies), I can remember eating mulberries until my stomach was full for about a week each May.
I also remember an old piece of barge rope my brother salvaged from along the Ohio River. When I was five or six years old, he climbed really far up into the mulberry tree and hung the barge rope to make a swing for us to play on. At the time, it felt like he was climbing fifty feet into the sky, but it was probably more like fifteen feet. He tied the bottom of the rope into a knot so people had something they could sit on. (Because I was smaller than everyone else, he had to tie the knot much lower to the ground than most wanted.
We had a four foot tall fence that went around our property, and my dad built a gate where the rope swing hung. You see, the tree was on the edge of our property, and the limb that the rope hung was situated perfectly in front of the gate. The gate also opened into a field that was part of my grandparents property. That field served as a football field, soccer field, baseball/wiffleball field and the prime location for catching lightning bugs (fireflies).
I think back to those times, and life seemed infinitely less complex. My brother and my dad were superhuman, and there was nothing they couldn’t accomplish (I actually still believe that about both of them!) My sister and my mom, were two of the most compassionate people I knew (still true!) and my life was filled with love from my family and an enjoyment of simple things like a rope swing and mulberries staining the pavement and my hands as I picked them to fill my belly with joy.
As we begin this memorial day weekend, I hope you can take a moment and journey back to your past and to some good memories. Where did you play? What brought you the greatest joy? Who were your heroes? It’s always good to take time to remember and reflect, particularly on weekends like Memorial Day Weekend.


Alise said...

Blackberries do that for me. Before the land that my grandparents owned was developed, there were tons of blackberry bushes. We would go out on Saturday mornings in the summer and just pick until our fingers were purple and our arms couldn't stand any more scratches. Then Gram would bake a blackberry pie and oh. It was good.

chanchanchepon said...

I can remember going out to pick blackberries with my aunt, uncle and cousins a few times too. My aunt would make pie and jam and good stuff like that.

Thanks for sharing Alise!