As a very young child, I adopted a sapling and named it George.
It is not uncommon for children and adults to form close relationships with trees. We think of them as people, not to take away their “treeness” but to have them as our relatives and equals.
The mulberry tree in this story never got a name but it was part of my life for fifteen years. Growing along my route to work, I biked passed it twice daily through the cycle of the seasons. Fifteen springs. Fifteen summers. Fifteen autumns and fifteen winters.
It’s the end of May and I should be picking berries from my tree. I’ll never forget the pancakes I made one year. How good they were!
The mulberry tree is messy. It has been banned in several cities in the U.S. because of its high pollen count. Here in Albuquerque, you can still find an ocasional tree growing on the bank of an irrigation ditch or on a city street stained purple. Some people think of the tree as a nuisance because the abundant annual crop leaves its mark but the berries have a divine flavor like no other fruit.
The Story Gets Sad
One day in early spring of this year, I noticed the tree had been cut down. I was stunned to see the stump, the trunk cut in pieces, and the branches carelessly scattered around.
The sap had just begun rising.
I don’t know why my tree was killed, or who did it. It grew on the edge of a vacant lot, right near the sidewalk. Coming on the heels of the death of my best friend of 50 years, the sight filled me with grief.
I rescued some branches and brought them to my workshop to give at least part of the tree a new purpose. The wood was “green”, saturated with life giving sap.
So I stickered and stacked the branches as if they were fine lumber and waited several weeks for them to dry. Then I made the branches into mezuzahs. When I was done carving I had 26 mulberry mezuzahs and a good story.
Here’s an amazing thing
I took this picture around sunset last night. Notice the new growth shooting out of the stump. My mulberry tree lives.