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Monday, June 22, 2015

Mulberry Wine

Summer damp rumpled the pages of the book on the nightstand; the whir of the fan echoed the restlessness of a dark, sonorous night. Bullfrogs at the lake’s edge sang a song of weariness and ennui. Fireflies flashed in recognition of the sentiment.

Sleep was a fugitive on many nights like this. The humidity was just high enough to make the sheet cling to her legs, tangling her feet with each toss and turn. The book had been picked up and put down several times already, failing its one job as soporific.

The breeze rustled the leaves of the trees in the yard and brought the scent of roses in the window. So many years ago she had climbed out this window in the middle of the night whenever sleep eluded her. The sense that she was escaping a box full of disapproval meant just for her was exhilarating. In mid-summer she would sneak down to the lake and climb the mulberry tree whose ancient branches swept out over the water. Eating her fill of ripe mulberries, the splash of raccoons fishing at the water’s edge would nearly lull her to sleep in the tree.

Tonight she considered climbing out that window again, just for old time’s sake. A feeling of foolishness washed over her as she tossed aside the damp sheet. Instead of by the mulberry tree near the lake, she found herself in the kitchen pouring a glass of her uncle’s homemade mulberry wine. The cat squinted up at her and wound itself around her feet, determined not to be left out of whatever mischief was afoot.

As she and the cat settled into the glider on the front porch, it occurred to her that the alchemy of changing mulberries into wine was an excellent metaphor for life. The brash tartness of the berries had been boiled, strained, sweetened and fermented. The resulting dark liquid held the memory of where it had come from, of what it had been. It also held the knowledge of transformation – from modest beginnings into fragrant sweetness. Yet the transformation wouldn’t have been so grand had the berry not been so humble.

Sometimes the hero and the damsel in distress can be one and the same.