I wonder why the lowly little mulberry has never been considered something special like the blueberry, blackberry, or strawberry? Who ever heard of mulberry pie or ice cream? When I was growing up we had a mulberry tree in the backyard. It was nothing to see the limbs covered with kids when the berries were ripe. I loved to sit on a limb and eat the berries. A lot of the times you could look out and see the late H.B. Stewart sitting on a top limb eating the berries. He loved them. No one told us they were full of little white worms, maybe other bugs, too. It would have been a sin to wash them. They had to be eaten sitting in the tree. I have a mulberry tree in my backyard. I have never eaten one of them. They are pink instead of the dark color of the ones in the Bolin’s backyard. They are pink when ripe. The reason I’ve never tasted one the birds beat me to them. When the berries start to ripen the tree limbs are loaded with birds. You never heard such a racket. I love to sit out on the patio to listen to the racket and try to see how many different kind of birds are feasting. I’ve heard people cutting down a mulberry tree because of the mess on the ground. I can assure you I have never had a mess. I just have birds.
I wonder why a peach taste better picked fresh from a tree, blueberries picked from a bush, fresh blackberries from a vine or a strawberry from a plant? It doesn’t matter to me if it comes from a tree, plant, bush or vine. I love fresh fruit of any kind even the lowly little mulberry. Is there such a thing as an Indian peach anymore? I loved the little peach. The Hugharts had a tree by their well in the back yard. One day Mr. Hughart, who always called me Jermima,said, “Jermima, how about making a peach cobbler? I will help peel the peaches.” We started peeling and I was eating every other one so he decided to join me in eating them. Did we have cobbler? I used to make the best peach pickles out of the little peaches. It broke my heart when someone in the family cut that little tree down. I haven’t seen a little Indian peach since.
When we drive to Northwest Arkansas you can no longer see apple orchards along the roads. What is now West Walnut Street in Rogers is where I used to go with my late sister-in-law, Winona, to get apples, eggs and fresh milk. Now it is all business along that street.
Frank and I used to go pick pears at the Charles Osborn orchard out number ten east. I loved making pear honey and preserves. Haven’t had any in years. My first experience with pear preserves was something else. The late Kitty Bailey made such perfect preserves and I had her tell me how to do it. She told me to cover the peeled pears with sugar and and let set overnight then cook them until they were clear. I did as she told me (I thought). My jars of preserves were beautiful. The first jar I opened Mr. Hughart broke a blade out of a table knife trying to get them out of the jar. He smiled and said, “Jermima, do you think you might have cooked these a little too long?” My cooking the pears til clear was like the time Mama sent me to wash the hominy. Our well was almost dry so she sent me down the road to the Boskey Neals to wash the hominy. She told me to wash it til it was clear. She said everytime she looked out I was still there so she came to see what was taking me so long. She hadn’t told me to wash it until the water was clear. I thought she meant the corn. By the time I got through it didn’t taste much like hominy.
Mrs. Hughart told me to rinse Bobby’s diapers until the water was clear. I don’t know how many times I rinsed them. I did learn how long to cook pear preserves though. It has been years since I’ve had a good home grown pear. I do know Mr. Osborn had two kinds, the eating kind and the cooking kind. Store bought kind are nothing like the kind that he raised. I love the kind that pops and the juice runs down your chin when you bite into it. I don’t know if you can buy such a thing as pear honey or pear preserves.
Pear honey is made from ground pears, spices and I believe pineapple. Um Um good! I always used the late Joyce Tomlin Bell’s recipe for pear honey. I made it every year until we could no longer get the pears. I miss what younger people call the olden days, when there were Indian peaches and home grown pears from Mr. Osborn’s Orchard.