Love The Fig
Early yesterday evening, I stood in the garden surveying the last of this year’s bountiful fig harvest. Even though a surprisingly cool breeze blew over me, it wasn’t quite worthy of a shiver. The coolness, like the diminishing numbers of figs in our garden, was a small sign that fall would soon arrive.
Standing towards the eastern edge of the raised growing beds, I was positioned so I could eye the remaining handfuls of my favorite fig, the matta, a delicate green variety that originates in Syria. Musing, I tried to imagine the complex chain of circumstances that had conspired to bring this tree to our yard in St. Augustine, Florida, from Syria. In a world that appears so vast and turbulent, I could not help but be amazed how this leafy emissary made that same world seem as small as the tiny seed which had formed this succulent beauty.
The entire fig-gy-ness of the moment made me rthe-fig-thief-videoeflect upon the NEW YORKER story my friend Amy Burchenal had shared on my Facebook wall earlier. Entitled, “Love the Fig,” it was a fascinating piece that changed how I saw all of nature, not just the trees in our yard. I never knew that figs are flowers turned inside out, and that for each variety, some seven hundred fifty in number, a tiny wasp exists whose sole purpose in life is to bore into and pollinate its chosen fig. It’s a sad tale, really, because the wasp gives its entire life to pollinate these pendulous fruits. But it also made me feel as if I had been afforded a view through a secret window, one where anything might be possible.
A Fig Thief In The Garden
While I ruminated on these fig-spansive thoughts, I was reminded of the countless jars of luscious preserves that line our pantry shelves. These jars are a testament to the magic of the four fig trees in our yard. Each has given their all this year, bursting forth with joy and supplying us abundantly with their fruit.
Suddenly, I was pulled from my reverie by a small mockingbird who lit on the empty rung of a lonesome cucumber trellis, just a few feet to my right. It’s too late in the season for cucumbers. However, the trellis creates a great roosting place – and it is very near to my favorite fig tree. And near to myself at the moment. In fact, the little gray bird was so close I could have reached out and touched her. I marveled at her boldness. But then I realized that her deliberate act gave her the opportunity to look straight into my eyes. It was a greeting of sorts, but it was also a declaration. She wanted figs for dinner.
Figs For Dinner
You see, we know each other, this bird and I. She raised her babies this spring in a nest outside our bedroom window. I believe our familiar association has created a friendship of sorts. At any rate, she was comfortable enough to get quite close to me and give me that glance of greeting. Then, it took her but a minute to hop into the spindly top of the matta fig. Once there, she glanced my way as if asking permission, although she had no intention of stopping to wait for my answer. I teased her a bit. “Are you planning on eating my figs?” I inquired? She knew I was no threat, and she quickly pecked and gobbled, gouging a giant hole in a tender green fig, exposing its soft flesh to her hungry beak.
She gobbled it down. Then, after her last bite, she bid me a bright-eyed adieu and flitted off to do what mockingbirds do.