I take great, enormous, disproportionate pleasure in urban foraging with my children. It combines the morally righteous current fads in food and child-rearing (eat local, teach your children where the food comes from) with the unexpected (food growing wild in Baltimore city) and, bonus, the illicit (it's not really stealing, but it feels like it in a very Huck-Finn wholesome way).
Recently I identified mulberry trees and ascertained that their fruit is edible. We've been grabbing a couple here and there on our walks of late. The fruits look like a blackberry, but are sweeter inside with a hint of tropical musk like a guava. They are also surprisingly sticky inside, like okra.
This morning we were in a relatively safe alleyway. I was leaping and leaping off the curb trying to catch at mulberry leaves so I could pull a cluster of fruit far enough down to harvest when I heard a voice from inside the house whose yard backed onto the alley where I was jumping.
"What are you doing?" The man asked.
"Getting berries. You want some?" I replied.
This free fruit thing has me excited to an evangelical pitch, so much so that I picked berries for Clara, and Winton and then displayed a few attractively in my palm for the man, who emerged from his house wearing boxer shorts and a handgun tattoo.
"These won't kill me?" He asked.
"We eat them and we're OK" I said, gesturing at my sticky, bepurpled children.
"They're sweet" He said.
"Yup!" I chirped delightedly. "So good, and right behind your house! You could make pie"
"Uh-huh" he said, "thanks."
And then he lay down on the weight bench in his back yard and started doing bench presses while I wondered if I had just made contact with someone I ought to have been scared of.