Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush

I wrote this last June, just as the mulberries were reaching the peak of their ripeness. I know the mulberries are late this year, as I picked some tonight. But I remembered to bring a plastic bag on my run this time...

The weather had taken a lovely turn from sticky hot to deliciously cool in the past few days. Making today a perfect day to go for a run after work! My husband had a happy hour with some of his co-workers, so I knew he would be home late. 

I took off at a good clip and decided to run along the water instead of on the congested lake path. As I passed the golf course, I saw an elderly Asian woman picking something off of a tree and eating it. I slowed enough to realize, MULBERRIES! My husband loves mulberries, talks about remembering their deliciousness when he was a kid, and how much he misses them. I kept running, but my wheels started turning. How do I get mulberries home to him? I didn't have any kind of container and didn't want to go back home to get one. Just at that moment, I ran past a trash can bursting with trash. Brilliant - get something clean out of the trash! Whenever you see someone digging through the trash in Chicago it is generally assumed they are crazy, so I kept running, hoping for a more remote trash can. As I neared my double back point, I saw a trash can off by itself, not spilling over, and located mostly away from anyone who would question my sanity. As I ran up to it, I saw an empty Oreo cookie tray on the ground. Done! And I didn't even have to dig through the trash. I stuffed it in the back of my shorts and resumed my run. (Trust me that this was truly the least ridiculous of my ideas.)

When I got back to the mulberry tree I started picking frantically. There was a fallen branch that was touching the ground, and I mostly stayed behind that, again, to avoid the questions of the crazy lady. I worked quickly, hoping no one would come along to stop me (I'm assuming the tree belongs to the golf course, but the branch was in a public park and most of the berries were on the ground, so I wasn't worried about stealing at least. People just get weird in the city when you start eating things of of trees.)

I filled my tray and walked home, immediately getting online to look at recipes. I didn't have enough for a pie, but I figured I could make a few turnovers at least. I wanted to hurry to get them in the oven before my husband got home so I could surprise him. I succeeded! And was just cleaning up the last of the evidence when he came through the door. I told him to stop and close his eyes as I put away one last dish.

 - "Okay, you can come in now!"
 - "What did you do?" 
 - "It's a surprise! Can you guess?" 
 - "Well, the smell gives me a pretty good indication. The other thing, what happened to your legs?" 

I looked down. That's when I realized that the cleaning of the kitchen was all for naught. Kneeling down on the ground to pick berries had resulted in large scattered berry stains on both legs, in splotches and drips. My husband could barely containing his laughter as he said, "You look like you survived the Holocaust." I also had a slight purple smear across my forehead. Sigh. 

Now it's pushing 10 pm, and I didn't get a darn thing on my list of "life things" done. But it was fun to throw caution to the wind, regain the berry stained hands of my childhood, and make a delicious surprise for my love. The turnovers are cooling, my husband is smiling, and I need a shower.


  1. That's a cute story -- and it's making me want to try mulberries. I don't think I've ever eaten 'em!

    (By the way, any branch overhanging onto public property is known as 'legal tender', and it's okay to pick off of it.)

  2. Look at you teaching me US laws from afar ;) I have picked berries once a week for the last three weeks, and I used them this morning to put in the pancakes I made for my nieces. The oldest (4) couldn't quite bring herself to call them mulberries, but instead kept referring to them as blackberries and raspberries, as that wasn't the closest thing she could compare them too.


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