Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mulberry Memories

"What heaven can be more real than to retain the spirit-world of childhood, tempered and balanced by knowledge and common-sense, to fear no longer the terror that flieth by night, yet to feel truly and understand a little, a very little, the story of life." --Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit

We went on our walk together this morning, hubby and I, something we try to do on Saturday mornings as a different routine than the normal weekly things. And lo and behold, we discovered that the mulberries are ripe.

The mulberry tree edges the road about a mile up the way. If you, like me, tend to keep your head down when you're walking (hubby always admonishes: "Get your head up! Look around. Don't watch your feet...") then the first sign of evidence are the purple splotches on the asphalt. But when we checked out the tree's branches, we marveled at the rich lode of berries growing there.

And the memories kicked in. I'm a child, along with a couple of neighbor kids, and we have crossed the road where it curves around the bend, skipped up the lane, and climbed the gnarled branches of the neighborhood mulberry tree. The owner doesn't care. We nestle in the crook of its branches, and stretch as far as we can to reach the plumpest, juiciest berries. The sun warms our arms. The breeze ruffles the leaves and cools our faces. We eat until we're full. It's one of my favorite summer memories.

For hubby, his memory bank kicked in as we passed a cluster of first-of-the-season daisies. "The end of the school year" flower, he says, the name he gave the daisy as a kid. He'd notice fields of daisies growing along the bus route those last few school days and know that school was just about over. Then he'd be free. Free to play ball--even if it meant just himself, with a rock and a stick and an imagination back on the hill behind the house. There he'd throw the rock up, hit it as far as he could--and pretend that the rustling leaves were his adoring fans cheering him on.

Oh, the childhood memories!

Recently, in our newspaper, columnist Paul Daugherty wrote a column about summertime ("How Summer Is Supposed to Be Spent"). In it he recalled how, as a child, his parents (who both worked) would leave a quarter on the bureau in the living room for him, and a handwritten reminder: "Have a good day and don't break anything." Armed with that 25-cents, "a bike and two good friends," he writes that he'd "throw myself at the day." He writes of being Roberto Clemente one day, Steve McQueen another, of sneaking into the tennis club pool or visiting the local pet store. He says, "Some days, we were bored. Kids need to be bored. Boredom is good."

He makes a good point as he continues: "The essential part of childhood is...being a child. Plan nothing. Risk. Extend...Loll. Dare. Engage. Run, jump, be fearless, look silly. The magic is in the day. Seize it. Find your own quarter on the bureau in the living room. One summer to a customer. This one's yours. Play."

I love his philosophy and think that we could use a bit of it in our adult lives, too. Especially those of us who write for children--as we explore such intangibles as imagination, creativity, wonder and the craft of words. What do you think? What's one of your favorite childhood summer memories--and how can you incorporate a touch of the child you were into the adult you've become?


  1. Some very good points, especially about keeping your head up. I am very guilty of looking at my feet when walking. I try and make a conscious effort to look up and around at my surroundings and appreciate all I see as I go by.

    The Beatrix Potter quote was a nice opener too! :)

  2. My childhood memories always seem to be wrapped around sunny days, bees buzzing in long grass, neighborhood kids playing tag across a series of connected lawns.

    What "brings it all back" for me are sounds. One is the sound of children playing in the distance. When I hear it, I can imagine my own friends calling me to come out and play. The other is the sound of a screen door slamming. That single SMACK can erase years in a second. Of course, not many people have that kind of screen door any more. And not as many children seem to play outside.

    To incorporate that "touch of a child" - simple, have grandchildren! I love it when a little voice says, "Grandma, let's play!"

  3. I spent my summers reading books. Those were my vacations. I still cherish those summers.

  4. WRITING CONTEST....My blog "Amish stories" is having a "Witness farm tour contest". What i'm looking for is readers to write their own sequel to the movie "Witness". I'm not looking for the entire movie script, just about 300 words or less so it would be a concept for another movie. The winner will win 2 tickets to tour the actual farm where the movie was filmed, plus the winner will tour Lancaster county and will see most of the locations that was used in the movie . The farm where the movie "Witness" was filmed is now owned by an Amish Family, so the family is giving permission for maybe the last time for this tour. The winner will also receive a small gift which will be provided in the tour. 1st prize winners will also receive 2 tickets for Jacob's Choice. There will also be a 2nd prize for 2 tickets for the Amish Homestead. This contest starts today(Monday) with a deadline set for saturday. The contest is sponsored by The Amish Experience in Bird in hand, pennsylvania. Please go to to enter this contest. Richard from Lebanon county's Amish community.

  5. What beautiful thoughts! Thank you.


  6. I recall being barefoot all of the time. Riding bikes, going to neighbors' homes, chasing the ice cream truck. And now, with my little ones, I'm still kicking off my shoes. The best part is they are too!

  7. My favourite childhood summer memories are reading books and playing games.

  8. Yes, I agree, this is a great philosophy. Children grow up much too quickly these days. And we adults need to cultivate more childlike habits, such as stopping to enjoy life. :)
    Happy weekend,

  9. Wonderful post! I love the summer for its simple invitation to rest, play, enjoy. I liked reading about your and dad's childhood memories...I love the simplicity and nature theme of them...