When I learned this jingle as a kid, I had some serious questions come to mind. What was a weasel? Why was the monkey chasing it? Why would the money go as the weasel went? Pop? Then, too, mulberry plants were trees, not bushes! You see even as a kid I wanted things to gibe with what I knew to be true.
Anyway, mulberry trees volunteered in many places on my property in the country. At first, I was diligent about trimming them out while they were young and it was easily done. But, you know how it is – eventually they got ahead of me and it seemed like there were mulberry trees everywhere I looked.
One spring I was away when the mulberries ripened and a friend was mowing the lawn for me. When I came home, he was quick to thank me for the opportunity to mow because he loved mulberries and they were in their prime. Every spring after that, including this one, I thought of that dear friend when the mulberries were ripe.
Where I now rent, my house is at the edge of the property. The next place north is a farmer’s field. Right on that border in a little spot apparently claimed by absolutely nobody is a mulberry tree. Now, with all due respect to trees in general, I think I would have to call this one a bush. Being a volunteer and living in no-man’s land, it was never properly pruned to develop into a nicely shaped tree.
That lack of a pretty shape does not deter its ability to produce berries, however.
This spring I hadn’t even thought about mulberries, but one day as Kelly and I started out for our afternoon walk, there was an unusual amount of activity in that scrub tree. So I stopped to check it out. What did I discover? Though I hadn’t paid any attention at all, every bird in the area was well aware the berries were ripe.
I did as my lawn mowing friend had done – I picked a few and ate them as we walked. You know, I had forgotten how sweet they are!
Well, that took me down memory lane to life on the farm as the country was in recovery from the Great Depression. In my opinion, Mom was the best cook in the area, served well-rounded, healthy meals, and often even found enough sugar to serve a dessert.
There were, of course, mulberries to be had. I don’t know where the cherries came from, though I remember Grandma having a cherry tree. Now, as you already know, it takes a lot of sugar to make a really good cherry pie, but Mom solved that by baking mulberry/cherry pies. I thought that was the top choice of all!
It was only as an adult I looked back to that time and reasoned it out that the cherries made the flavor and the mulberries were for sweetening.
Anyway, having seen the birds enjoying the mulberries and having tasted their sweetness myself, I picked some mulberries, bought cherries at the grocery and baked a mulberry/cherry pie. Its flavor sparked memories and delight across our little neighborhood as far as the pie was shared! Many remembered their mothers baking that same treat.
We might draw a lesson from this bit of nature as well. We don’t really relish the cherry times (sour, difficult times) in our lives, but when blended with the sweetness we find naturally all around us life becomes quite satisfying. Each mix produces a sweet tang that is, in itself, memorable. The source of the sweetness? The indwelling presence of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Would you care for a piece of mulberry/cherry pie?