Atlanta Fruitman’s Blog

Nature’s Surprize
March 24, 2009, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is an old article this I wrote a few years ago. It is one of my favorite fruit moments and people seem to like reading it. So….


It’s wonderful how nature surprises you when you open to it and when you least expect it. I was out late last night. Though I was sleepy, at the same time I had bug-in-my-butt to get out of the house and go dancing, so I decided to go to the Claremont Lounge. Ok, I guess I need to pause here. Those who know what this place is, what is looks like, what it represents in Atlanta may be either grinning or grimacing about now. If you don’t know this place…well, that will be a story for another time. This grinning or grimacing reaction should intensify when I tell you that I had really interesting food experience there. As your stomach begins to churn now at the thought at eating at such a place, and question why this has anything to do with what would be termed “natural”, less even gardening, rest assured that with the most a sharp eye and open mind, nature’s beauty can be found most anywhere. I am getting ahead myself here; so let me back up a bit. After the dancing to Romeo Cologne at the Clermont, which actually I spent more time in the front entrance talking with the bouncer and doorman laughing at the strangeness that comes in and out that place, I was heading back to the car when I noticed a small mulberry seedling next to the telephone pole near the entrance. Ok, let me sidebar again to say that anyone who knows me know I seem to have a fetish when it come to fruit trees. I wont bore you by attempting to explain my perversion here. Anyway, back to the story. When I looked at the leaves, it looked like a Morus Ruba (or a hybrid) not the typical white mulberries that you see around as weed trees. FYI-I should also say that mulberry varieties and fruit colors have nothing to do with each other. Also I then noticed stains on side walk by the seedling of what look like fruit. I looked up and there was a larger mulberry tree branch over me with tons of ripe fruits hanging just within arms reach. It was if the tree itself was just saying, “here have meal on me – of me”. I had to try one. There were so sweet. It actually tasted like ripe banana; the over ripe ones that have as much black as yellow on the skin. I ate another one…I was hooked. I guess I was hungry. I gorged myself for the next 15 minutes on this hidden treasure. My hands are still stained from the juice. It was about 2 am in dark corner of the street. I could half see. I didn’t know what I was putting in my mouth. I could only wonder what people thought of me as they past by, One guy yelled out, “what are you doing to that tree!” I told him it’s a mulberry and fruits are great. He stared at me blankly and went on his way. Only after I had my fill and rested, did I realize that I should have collected them and washed them. I could be eating bird crap and bug for all I know. What the heck, more protein, right? I was drunk. Not on the booze that was being served just few yards away, the drug of choice with most of the patrons there, but on the moment of discovery and nature’s bounty. The tree was still covered with ripe fruit. I didn’t want to see this go to waste. I wanted others to know what I discovered. I wanted them to have the same ironic pleasure that I had in finding this gem in such a dive place. I went to the car to get plastic cup I had in the back seat. I filled the cup with berries and went back to the Claremont Lounge. My hands were stained purple as well as my face from the fallen berries and juice from my mouth. I presented the cup to my friend at the door. I said, “you have to try these”. This was a mistake. People have different sides to them. Sides that maybe contradictory and looked upon as odd to the general public. I realize my interest (my fetish) may seem odd to the people. Usually, I may ease it in to conversation with others. Most people gently laugh in disbelief, but as I continue to talk about it, they begin to take me seriously. But to confront a friend with this in wee hours of the morning in front of the Claremont with the products of my fetish …from the Claremont, was not something that anyone was open to accepting. A group was around the door as I came with my gift. I presented the doorman with my gift. Once I saw the bank stare and furled brows of people around the door, I knew slipped. Most city people don’t even know what a mulberry is, less eat them. I took a few of them popped them in my mouth to assure people that this was not a set-up for a joke. Still no one tried them. I was thanked with certain veiled politeness and everyone continued with there one conversation as if I was not there. I thought it best not to push the issue. I walked back to my car. If they threw them out, that was missed opportunity. I had hoped they would try one before they did. I wondered if became the butt of the new jokes. Did I replace the on going story of the baccalaureate that fell drunk against bar and busted her chin? Would they even know what to make of this? As I continued home, I thought of other friends that would be pleased with such a gift and who would be up there with me picking berries and cuttings from the tree to see if they could root it and have it in their yard. I guess this was a way to assure myself I was not so strange. Where were they now when I most needed the backup. Some of you gardener out there may have had similar stories to tell. Finding a plant growing out of a crack in the pavement behind some forgotten place. You happen to have a shovel with you and the moment takes over. You don’t care what people are thinking. This is the passion of plants. The same kind of passion some people have when they find bargains at flea markets. I say own it! After all, one mans trash (tree) is another man’s treasure. As an after-thought of this whole mulberry story is the wonderment of why so many mulberries are around here. Well, some of you may know that in Georgia’s early history we had to get a big silk industry going once the secret of how silk was make got out. Apparently the Chinese guarded this secrete wit h fear of death. So who ever told either got rich or killed. This is a real tale that I would be a lot more interesting than Alias or 24. Anyway, silk trees were brought over from China and propagated here. The industry failed, If I remember, they first brought the wrong trees and then the worms didn’t flourish here because of climactic differences. I think about 1800 they stopped and started cotton, but the trees were still here and become feral. The progeny we still see to day. Red mulberries (which have the heart shaped leaves and I think are somewhat native to North America) and White mulberries what we mostly see (which have three fingers to there leaves) are everywhere. I think if people wanted to look for great fruiting varieties, I think may be the area to start. I say all this to let you all know that I want to taste more of what is out there in mulberries. Actually, I think everyone should. If you have one or know of one that is most flavorful, please let me know. UPDATE: I am currently trying to propagate this tree for the seconbd time trought grafting and rooted cuttings. Wish me luck!!

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