By Kit Slack
Mulberry trees are weeds in Hyattsville. Seedlings poke out of cracks in the concrete. They branch out, turning chain link fences into hedges, or rising, unbidden, to eye level in a year or two.
In June, the mulberry fruit, like smaller, softer blackberries, spatters down onto asphalt and concrete, making small dark circles of pulp and juice.
My children and their friends have settled in early summer each year around one particular tree, a weed tree grown massive and gnarled on a fence line between the Driskell Park playground and the former Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission parking lot.
There, a half-naked baby would paint her face, hands and diapered bottom deep purple on the ground. I’d pull down branches for short-limbed children so they could stand and eat. More berries would plop down on us, knocked loose by the movement of older children perched in the huge spreading branches above.
That tree, and others along the fence and near the storm drain outflow and Driskell Park stream head, came down suddenly in May this year. The berries in the topmost branches were already ripe.
Silt fencing and a wide rectangular pond have since replaced those trees. I’ve seen flocks of geese arrive.
What will come next to this spot? A road to allow for redevelopment of the park to prepare for heavier use by a growing population? A recreation area for the 72 households coming to Suffrage Point, the Werrlein development? Or, as some still hope, greenspace on the grounds of a new elementary school, where many more children might play?
Here at the Hyattsville Life & Times, we work to let you know how Hyattsville is changing, who is changing it, and why — and how you can be involved.
Keeping you informed isn’t easy in this era of five-hour-long virtual hearings. Key speakers have poor audio connections, 500-page reports are filled with obscure marketing and planning-speak, and public officials make deals in private.
Keeping you informed isn’t easy with a staff of volunteer writers and a small crew of part-time editors who work for tiny stipends.
Keeping you informed isn’t easy as printing and postage costs increase, while the small businesses who advertise with us feel the pandemic pinch.
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When I look back through our 18 years of archives, the generosity of our many volunteer writers astounds me — vigorous and fruitful, like our mulberry trees.
As our city urbanizes, it is time to cultivate what we value, watch it flourish and share its fruit.
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