willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs

Moments that Matter

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Have you ever heard of Service Berries? Neither had I, until our resident horticulturist…aka, our oldest son, pointed out that we had a Service Berry Tree right in our front yard.  He was about to pop one in his mouth after picking it from that tree as I shrieked,  “You cannot eat that!”  He paused long enough to say, “These are the most underrated berries in North America,” and then swallowed a handful. In the back of my mind, I knew that his prowess as to what you could and could not eat in the wild was staggering. In the front of my mind, as he extended a few berries out to me in his palm, I said, “No way, they look like the berries my mom always told me not to eat, that only the birds ate.” Christopher has long loved the outdoors and identifying plants, trees and animals is like second nature to him.  National Audubon Field Guides and SOS Survival Guides is what he has read for fun…since forever. I have grown very used to having him walk into the kitchen with his latest pickings, asking me to boil them or cook them in one manner or another; Sassafras roots into root beer, dandelions into salad, field strawberries and mint into jelly, fungus, otherwise known as mushrooms growing out of a log into a delicious sauté and stinging nettle into soup. I drew the line at that one…have you ever touched stinging nettle? Anything you have to cook while wearing gloves, let alone has the word stinging in it, cannot be good for you to eat. We currently have something pink and podlike sitting in a basket in the kitchen counter waiting to be dried of whose name I cannot remember.

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I reconsidered my quick response for after all, if we were in a survival situation, Christopher is the only one I know whom I would trust my life with, on what I could and could not eat. I ate the handful and they were delish!! Truly delicious…sweet, smooth, no seeds, kind of like a blueberry but without that little sour side note. From then on, every time I walked past that overlooked tree, I plucked a few. Underrated…definitely, for I had been walking past that tree for almost nine years now and never knew the tree’s name nor the fact that it bore such a scrumptious berry.

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Another underrated berry is the mulberry. Growing from trees, they fall every year onto our driveway and end up getting smashed by the tires of the cars that drive up and down. One year I picked a huge bucket of them with the kids and since we did not have time to make them into anything at that moment, we put them in the fridge. Two days later when we went to get them to make them into a yummy pie, we were sorely disappointed    by the mold that had grown all over them. Christopher filled us in, in that they had a high moisture content and molded easily. That little tidbit totally discouraged me from picking them again. It seems difficult enough to find the time to pick enough berries from anywhere, except from the grocery store shelf, to then follow up that act with making a pie right after the picking expedition. Who has time for that? The birds could have them.

Except for this year. Christopher had been extolling the virtues of the bumper crop of mulberries that had been falling from the trees again onto the driveway and asking me over and over to pick them with him. I kept putting him off, for there is always something else to be done isn’t there? Being the relentless Chris that he is, he asked me so many times that I finally gave in.

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He told me that the best way to pick them was to get a big tarp and shake the tree and the berries would all fall on the tarp. Then you just scoop them up into a bucket. I asked him to get the tarp and I would get a bucket and to meet in the front field. I snapped this photo as I was following behind with the bucket. It truly was amazing, the frazzled woman who said yes to picking mulberries due to exhaustion from giving excuses as to why she could not pick mulberries, slowly relaxed as she followed her son down the drive and partook in the activity. She heard the birds sing and listened to her son… really listened, as she engaged in a single activity, start to finish and relished in it. She relished in it so much that she even put off the “to do list” once back in the kitchen and made that mulberry pie right after picking. Well, that is not the whole truth, she made a mulberry crisp, for even though she wanted to make a pie, making the dough from scratch would take way too much time…so she made a crisp. What a two part lesson she learned that day…

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If you do not think you have the time to do something that one of your children really wants to do…with you…you do…you just need to do it.


If you truly do not have the time to make a pie…make a crisp. Sometimes if we adjust our expectations, and change course, the result is just as satisfying…sometimes even more. Tomorrow I think I am going to ask one of my other frisbee loving sons if he wants to play. After he recovers from the shock, he just might take the time… and be pleasently surprised.

I have attached a link to the recipe we used which called for blueberries but we substituted mulberries and serviceberries. It was super good and even better with a scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt!


May your 4th of July be filled with some moments that matter~


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  1. Karen says:

    What a wonderful story and reminder for all to stop take part in this life. Enjoy the journey.

    • Meg Veno says:

      Thanks for commenting Karen, and yes, taking part in this life is what we really need to get a hold of, for we only have one journey through it.
      xxx Meg