We Almost Cut Down the Mulberry Tree

14 March 2017

When we bought this house two years ago, the bushes and trees had all but consumed it. No one had touched them for years and they'd freely developed their green kingdoms for feral cats and precocious rats. One bush had been about the size of a dump truck and sprawled across half the front lawn.
My dad came to town and bought my husband a chainsaw. We began clearing. We would cut down one sapling and quickly expose another leggy monstrosity. Years without sufficient light and competing for resources had left the bushes and trees ugly and misshapen.

We didn't want to cut down everything, but for every tree we cut down it was like we were taking the skirts off the rest of the trees and exposing a forest of gimpy legs. Many had grown at strange angles that made sense when they'd been avoiding a gluttonous bush, but now they jutted out with no purpose, Vs and Ps, like letters fallen out of their words, memories of the old lawn, incomprehensible pieces of a forgotten story.

So we kept cutting, and in one weekend the front yard became a forest of spikes and we met all of our neighbors. The men would slap Jacob on the back. We were liberating the street.

We left three small trees at the northwest corner of the house, and they stood there through the winter awaiting the second reaping. But come March we saw the mulberries. Like some offering of gratitude. Laden with the berries in their natural ombre of green to pink to black, the branches bowed to the ground .

The squirrels and the birds mostly had their way with the ripe berries before we could, but we heeded the tree's gesture.

And we didn't cut it down.
We went out last weekend to pick berries. They fall from the tree and hide like jewels in the St. Augustine, so we hunt for them.

We only met one neighbor. She told us to watch for cedar waxwings. They love mulberries, she said.

We love them too.

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