High above the mountains the crow soared through the glorious sunshine,
with a full stomach, and a family waiting for her to return.
As she flew over the tiny Town of Lilydale she passed the seeds of the Mulberry she had eaten earlier.
The seeds landed in a vacant block not far from the main street of the town.
The vacant block had a For Sale sign standing high on the Main Road, which now had a large “sold” smeared across it.
Doctor Barge and his family had bought the block and were now negotiating with the builders, for a 2 story, 4 bedroom large house to be built on the block.
The same day, 10 years later, Mrs Katy Barge was standing in the garden looking at the tree growing by the side fence. “Do you know what sort of tree this is dear?” She asked her Husband. Doctor Barge picked off one of the leaves and looked at it. “Why, it’s a mulberry tree, we should be getting some very nice fruit from it not long from now!”
Doctor Barge and his large family lived in the house for many years and all enjoyed the lush black berries from the mulberry tree. Mrs Barge made many jars of mulberry jam which she distributed far and wide, and also sent a dozen jars to the local School fetes every month. Friends told her they had planted seeds from the punnets of fresh fruit she had given them, hoping that their children would be able to enjoy the fruit in years to come.
Doctor Barge and his wife grew old and were eventually put into the local nursing home. Their children sold the house and distributed the money among themselves, then moved to the big city.
The beautiful house fell into disrepair and the new owners of the property eventually tore it down and cleared the block. The mulberry tree was now so large that the council said it had to stay there.
In the house next door to the vacant block lived Mr and Mrs Murphy and their 8 children. Mr Murphy worked in the local mine, and Mrs Murphy worked at the Catholic School, where all the children attended.
They were very poor and grew all their own vegetables, they also had a lemon tree and plum tree. The small children thought it was wonderful that they had a very large mulberry tree hanging far over into their garden. They used it to build a cubby in, to play hidey in, just for climbing around in but mostly they loved to sit in the tree and eat luscious black mulberries until they got stomach aches. They also had a native cherry growing in the house next door which hung over the fence near the front gate, so they never wanted for fruit at all.
Mrs Murphy spent hour upon hour searching the town for empty jars, which she then filled with jam and jelly from the fruit trees. She continued to supply the School with jars of mulberry jam for their fetes, for many years. As the children grew up they all eventually left their home to go to the big smoke. Mr Murphy died at the age of 70 while his wife lived on in the cottage until she was 84 and she was moved to a nursing home.
The small cottage was now very old and falling apart. The siblings all decided to sell the property to a large conglomerate, which had purchased the entire block. The bulldozers were bought in to flatten the remaining three houses on the block and were about to uproot the mulberry tree when the CEO came running up to the driver. “Stop! The mulberry tree has to stay!” The drivers thought it was quite ridiculous, but he was the boss, so they said nothing and continued razing the buildings.
That night there was a meeting at the Town Hall. Council had called on anyone who had an interest in the old tree to come forward and give their reason why it should stay there.
The first ones to be introduced were two very well known, and famous, Doctors from Melbourne. Everyone wondered who they were and what they had to do with this meeting.
“My name is Doctor Sean Barge, and I lived on the property with the mulberry tree for 18 years. This is my sister Doctor Vera Barge, who also lived here for many years. The old mulberry tree is a big part of our lives. My Mother not only made jam for the entire town, and the School, but fed us all on the wonderful fruit as well. We spent hours playing in the tree and also sitting up there studying for our exams. This tree has so many memories it is like a very old friend that needs to be nurtured, not put out of it’s misery!” Everybody applauded.
Next to be introduced was the Dean of a very prestigious School in Melbourne, and his sister who taught at the same School.
“My name is Kenny Murphy and this is my sister Margaret Murphy.
We come from a very big family who lived next door to the Barge family.
We all spent many wonderful hours playing in the old mulberry tree, and we even built a cubby up there. My dear mother made jam and jelly for most of the community and continued to make jam for the School fetes for many years. We also spent hours just sitting up there and reading which gave us a little time to ourselves now and then. This old tree has seen so many memories, and so many lives passing in the night, it has earned it’s place in this world and should be allowed to rest there for it’s last years.” There was once again, thunderous applause.
Next to speak was the Dean of the now very large, Catholic School. He told the audience how many, many of the parents at the School had received jars of jam and jelly over the years, including his own. “My Mother gave me mulberry jam sandwiches quite often, which we all loved. She also used the jam in pies and tarts for the fetes and gave many to her friends and relatives. The thing I really want to stress is the amount of jam and jelly which has been donated to the fetes for so many years. We keep a record of what is sold at the fetes every month and we now have an amount of how much we have made from selling donated mulberry jam and jelly at our monthly fetes.”
The whole room went quiet, waiting.
“This School has made $10,000 dollars from selling $5 jars of mulberry jam for many, many years! If that isn’t a reason to keep the tree where it is, then I don’t know what is!” Everyone jumped to their feet and roared their agreement!
The tributes went on and on from people who had lived in the area for years and now resided in the City.
When the tributes had finished, the CEO of the conglomerate came forward.
“Good evening everyone! I guess nobody here recognises me? When I lived in this town I was a small, very shy and quiet little boy.”
There was a murmur went through the room. Who was he?
“My name is Rodney Stark.” There were audible gasps.
“Yep, I went to the Catholic School and I left in year ten. I was friends with quite a lot of you back then. After moving to the City I continued my studies while I was working several small jobs, and eventually joined a large company, which I am now owner of.
So you see, I also have good memories of buying and using the mulberry jam from the significant tree on the vacant block.”
Mr Stark turned the video on and everyone turned to watch the white screen. There on the screen was a large painting of a horse-shoe shaped building with an opening at the front. In the middle was a large courtyard with park benches and tables, lovely flower beds and bushes scattered in between. Right in the middle of the courtyard stood a large elegant dark green tree. The audience started to murmur, which grew louder and louder, until it was an uproarious applause.
“So you see, I have no intention of getting rid of the mulberry tree.
That tree has given me, and so many of you, such lovely memories it deserves it’s place in this world, and that’s where it will stay!”
While the meeting was running in the local Town Hall, a crow swooped down and plucked a beak full of mulberries from the tree. As she was flying over the small town of Phoenix, she passed the seeds, which dropped into the yard of a local Doctor.