A few years ago a windstorm came through my neighborhood and split my mulberry tree in half. It was an old, weird looking thing before the accident, technically not even a tree, just a shrub grown tall and spindly; now it’s really just a piece of a tree roped to the dead stump. See, after the storm I went outside to survey the damage and found it crawling with carpenter ants, the heartwood bored through and through. I assumed it wouldn’t survive much longer, and asked my lawn service to remove it.
One day, though, when I came home from the office I found it back upright, the two halves bound together with thick cord. My lawn guy was sure that all it needed was a couple of tight bungee cords and it was heal itself right back up. Unfortunately, as an arborist he should stay behind a mower.
In a matter of weeks half the tree was stone dead, and the other half wasn’t looking too good, either. It was out of the way, though, and it isn’t cheap to have a tree removed, so I left it alone. It kept looking worse over the months, but occasionally a little shoot would push its way out, and a few leaves would appear. Occasionally I’d even see a berry or two, but not much.
In a perfect storybook world I would report that eventually the tree made a full recovery, and that those few leaves turned into branches, and a sturdy new trunk has formed. But sadly, this isn’t a fable. The tree is still struggling along — old, beaten-down, half-dead, but alive — but it will never regain its old stature.
Saturday morning I went out into the yard to take a look at it and was surprised to discover the thready branches ornamented with ripe mulberries. It wasn’t a huge harvest like the early years, when I would get bucket after bucket of berries, bloodying my hands with the juice. This was two dozen berries at most, enough to half-fill a bowl.
But my! They were tasty.