Bacchanalian/puritanical pull of wild berries on Wild Sunday June 15, 2008

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Friday morning I saw my first mulberries of the spring.

Saw may be stretching the verb a bit.

Let me put it this way: I found the first green nubbins of mulberries on my morning ramble around the town pond with Storm, our irrepressible Lab mix.

My instincts were June 13 seemed late for mulberries to be ripening.

Apparently so.

I checked back in WILD THINGS in my Wednesday outdoors column in the Sun-Times for the past few years. And it is late.

On June 13, 2007, I noted: “To carp fishermen and outside sorts who simply like seedy treats, mulberries are ripe across the area. South of the city, raspberries are ripening rapidly.”

We are behind. My couple bushes of raspberries haven’t even reached nubbins stage yet.

On June 9, 2004, I noted mulberries were ripening south of the city. So my guess is berries are about 10 days to two weeks behind.

There’s something bacchanalian about eating wild mulberries, the way the act stains hands, mouths and clothes. Amid all the juice and taste sensation, you have to chew around the tiny stem.

On the other hand, there’s something puritanical about eating wild raspberries, the way you have to risk pricks to pluck the ripened fruits.

Forgive me, but I can get wild about eating wild berries.

BTW, don’t eat wild berries in areas where you think somebody might have sprayed. The real trouble spots are along the edges of farmed fields and railroad tracks.

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