We have mulberry trees at the edges of our yard and I have spent the last few days on a ladder. They aren’t our trees--the trunks touch down in the neighbor’s ground--but the branches lean across into our yard and I seem to be the only person interested. I only feel concern about stealing from the birds that have built their nest in the top branches. Sometimes I pick the berries one by one, other times I hold my basket under a branch and trouble the clustered berries with my fingers until they fall. Mulberries are good at falling. When they are ripe they tumble away from your hand just as you reach for them. Sometimes I am masterful and twist perfectly, picking just one berry without shaking the branch and knocking them all to the ground. Other times I hear the plink of lost berries falling against my ladder. I work from the bottom up, first standing in the grass and staining my feet on the fallen berries. I always think I’ve picked all the ripe ones on a branch, but when I climb the ladder and look down, I see whole handfuls that I’ve missed. Berry picking can’t be rushed so there is plenty of time to think, considering the jam making potential of the berries, nonsense thoughts about silk worms and paper scrolls, humming a horrible country song that was on the radio when I was in high school.... It doesn’t much matter. My head is hidden in the branches and this makes me think that no one can see me, that I have disappeared from the world and all that matters is fingers to berry, berry to basket. I will save some of the berries from the jam making and bake this cake to welcome Brad home.