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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Silk worms, maggots and me

In some ways, they are not fruit at all, tight green or plump purple, hanging in clumps from the branches of the trees, free food provided me by mother nature for my stops between bouts of jogging.
Ever since I was a kid, I wondered about how the river side came to have so many mulberry trees, both the purple kind and the white kind, lining both the Clifton and the Garfield sides, all the way from Passaic to the Paterson Falls.
Recently I learned that silk worms feed on the leaves of these trees, and the world made sudden sense to me. A silk city like Paterson must by default also become a mulberry capital, even a century after the silk industry died.
Now these trees feed me as I run from one cropping of trees to another, me, spinning my own thread out around the river: the tree near the grey wooden dock, the tree near the diner, the trees along the highway where the turtles sun on their logs.
For about two weeks this summer, I jogged passed the body of dead muskrat that had been struck by a car on the highway but had managed in its death throes to drag itself up onto the side where I jog. For those two weeks, I grit my teeth to pass the beast as it rotted, maggots crawling over it after the first day, stripping it to the bone, they feeding on its carcass the way I fed off the trees: silk worms and maggots and me.

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