They bring back childhood memories of driving a pickup into our pasture and backing it underneath the heaviest branches. Even a slight shake sent the ripe fruit tumbling onto the old sheet my brothers and I spread over the bed. We drove from tree to tree until the sheet was covered and our feet, fingers, and mouths were purple. Then my mother made mulberry jelly, and mixed the berries into pound cake for lightness.
Any other season you can easily pass a mulberry without knowing it overhangs you, but in the spring its cover is blown by fruit dropped onto sidewalks and driveways. I didn’t realize it until this year, but Topeka’s trails are crowded with the trees. During a recent 62-mile trail ride, Mr. Spoked waited while I picked and ate the delicate berries. You’re probably thinking about all the worms inside the fruit, but I’m a farm kid and have eaten worse. And protein keeps you going on the long rides. When we got home, I sneaked into the neighbor’s yard where a mulberry has shoved itself between fence and house, and picked enough fruit to make homemade syrup. Life is a sticky chain of memories, purple stains that time cannot erase.