You may call me a thief, but I say I’m an urban forager. It all started this weekend, when I was riding my bike through the neighborhood. I stopped at an intersection and happened to spot a tree heavy with bright red cherries. Some branches hung close to the road, so I plucked one off. It was intensely sweet and sour at once. Delicious. The fact that it was free, and seemed to appear like a gift from the heavens, made it even better.

The next day, Amelia and I hiked the two blocks back to the tree, this time carrying a large plastic bowl. I was going to knock on the door and ask permission, but as I approached, I noticed the lawn was strewn with beer bottles. It was clearly a college rental, and I figured they wouldn’t mind.  It would have been a crime to let all that beautiful fruit go to waste. Plus, the bowl full of cherries I picked hardly made a dent in the tree’s incredible bounty.

For some reason this year, I have opened my eyes to the harvest in my own neighborhood. There are mulberries raining down on the sidewalk outside our house, and for the first time, Amelia and I ate some instead of just stepping around the mess they leave. They won’t displace raspberries anytime soon, but they are not bad. Certainly worth walking 20 yards and picking a few for a pie. I am also looking forward with eager anticipation to the wild blackberries that, I have heard, ripen along a local greenway in late summer. And my neighbor with the fig tree better watch out.

That cherry tree has made me wonder what else I have been missing. I have lived in this neighborhood for seven years and never noticed it, so full of fruit that it glows red from a block away. Have I been walking past fresh peaches, apples and persimmons for years without noticing? My mother-in-law has a pecan tree in her yard, and this year it dawned on me for the first time that I might actually get some pecans from it, rather than paying dearly for them at the Whole Foods. Unfortunately, I had my revelation just as she was moving out.

What other gifts has the universe been extending as I stumbled by, too blind to notice?

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