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Mulberry Tree

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

By Jian Ping

Mulberry Tree

I’ve been riding my bike along the Michigan lakefront trail from Museum Park by Roosevelt to the 63rd Street Park since early spring. It’s a beautiful route: starting by the Field Museum, going around Shedd Aquarium, passing behind the McCormick Place…. The trail extends for miles and miles. On the east side is the vast body of water, like an ocean, reaching into horizon. Its color turns blue, green or gray depending on the time of the day and the weather. It’s never the same. On the immediate west: trees, grass, and flowers, and then the stream of cars, buzzing on Lakeshore Drive. The scene is never the same either. I hit the trail two or three times a week, marveling at the ever changing sights and enjoying the view. Magnificent!

Last Thursday, I got on the trail later than usual and stopped at the park close to 53rd street. As I put my bike beside a bench and stretched before turning back, I noticed purple spots of stains on the paved trail. My heart skipped a beat. I looked up and could hardly believe my eyes: a huge mulberry tree arching over me, beckoning in the breeze. Only a few berries were left on the branches, which explained the stains on the ground. I looked around and found another one next to it, and then, across from the trail, yet another one. For some reason, this mulberry tree was the only one still being covered with large, dark berries! I was thrilled. I couldn’t believe I had missed them all this time.


And more berries!

I went back with my camera the next day in mid afternoon when the sun was shining. The golden beam made the dark green leaves and purple berries sparkle in midair. I touched them, gently and carefully, thinking of the five mulberry trees of my childhood. These trees were much larger and healthier. As I took photos from different angles, my mind was racing with childhood memories and my mouth watering for these lustrous berries. I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement.

I knew then and there: mulberry tree, which had played a significant role in my childhood, would always have a special place in my heart.

I am and will always be a mulberry child.

Jian Ping, author  of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China. Visit,

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