Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mulberries, Big Sisters, and Lessons Learned

Help! Something is wrong with my mulberries. No, not birds eating them all. Not this year anyway.

I went out today to gather some mulberries for a cobbler. I brought them in and promptly placed them in a bowl of cold water. I quickly called my sister to tell her my mulberries are broken...

Now why would I call long distance to tell her such a thing? Ah, a short story to tell.

When we were kids we ate green apples off a tree. We ate plums off a tree. And...we often reached up and took a few mulberries off a tree and ate them. Once when my dad was home, he drove a truck at that time so he was gone quite a bit and for long periods of time we kids had eaten some mulberries off the tree. We then went out into the open part of the yard to play. Dad went inside the house and came back out with a cup of water whereupon he called us over to the tree.

He said he wanted to show us something about mulberries. He pulled a few off the tree and dropped them into the cup of water and lowered it for us to see. I don't know about the others but what I saw was cool, as we used to say. These little green worms came boiling out of those mulberries. I mean lots of them. They looked an awful lot like the little green stems of the fruit. I thought that was fascinating. But we were discouraged somewhat from eating mulberries straight off the tree at least for a while. One of us apparently were more discouraged than others. That must have been around 58 years ago and yet there is more to this story. Just yesterday I learned something else about that lesson.

My older sister cannot bring herself to eat mulberries at all since that day. I was shocked when she told me. She is not usually one to be affected in that way. We discussed it further. I explained to her that if you just soak them you will get most of the worms out. Most of them. Nope, she knows it but she was having none of it. But,But...I explained to her that the berries would be cooked. Nope, doesn't matter she is just not going there. We discussed how many of the cereals and grains we eat are full of eggs of bugs and “millers” as I call them. She is not one to be overly sensitive by any means. She is not a cleanliness freak. Yes, she knows all these things but it doesn't matter she just can't eat mulberries since that day all those years ago.

All I can figure is she must have been in one of the many wonderful stages of childhood where you can have fears you never had before-like I did once about trains near our house. Those trains had been running near-by all along but one night that sound I had loved so, and do again, scared me. For some period of time I can't remember, I was afraid, only at night though. I can't remember all the childhood phases like this for kids but I know there are a lot. For instance the “fear of strangers” phase in babies. All of a sudden that baby that smiles at everyone and lets most anyone hold him/her will one day decide that that cousin or aunt or whomever, is a really strange monster to be feared. It is like someone flipped a switch. Then there is the fear of not breathing, especially at night. You must stay awake to be sure you breathe. Or the fear of starvation if you don't have access to food through the night, or maybe it is water so you don't die of thirst....

But my “big” sister?? Never. She was never a fearful person. She, the caretaker, afraid? The person who gave me her clothes? My protector? It CANNOT be. NO! What will happen to the world? Maybe someone else's big sister but never, no way, no how, not mine!

Yep. Big sisters, and maybe big brothers, can and do have fears. They may be tough. They may be the one who will stand up for you or punch someone for pickin' on you but shock of shock... Big Sister's have fears and they really can be “grossed out”, even if they don't let, sometimes daren't, let anybody know.

So the reason I called her...my mulberries had no worms.

Well, the mulberries were good, and the cobbler was good, and I am so very sorry for my big sister that she was in a “gross-out” phase when we got to see all those “Billions” of worms come out of those few berries in that cup of water. Lesson more than learned.

Happy Birthday Big Sister.


  1. Well I never knew that! Ha!! We have a big mulberry tree. Cloten built a tree house in it and he loves to climb up there and eat the berries. I can't wait to try your Dad's berry-soaking worm lesson out on him. I will test that out tomorrow...if I can remember.

  2. I think either they are already out of the berries or the storms had cleaned them out.

  3. I grew up in Kansas too... as a kid I and my siblings would eat the mullberries right off of the tree... very good! Then we got worms, and this was no fun (things got very itchy... use your imagination); we had to get some kind of pills to kill them. Then my mom showed me the mullberries in the water test, and needless to say, I have not eaten any since.