Monday, August 1, 2016

FIGS - yep, figs.......

     Figs. Yes, just figs. Growing up, the only figgish thing I knew of was a cookie that encased a rather thick, dark, sweet, paste-like substance. I found the odd scattering of white specks throughout this filling quite interesting, having no idea that these were seeds. So, my childhood relationship was limited with regard to figs. For years, the fig was to me like a butternut squash; it was there, but I had little interest in it. I'm confident that you are familiar and skilled with the proper response to things in which you have no investment.

A friend (figophile?) says, "Look! Aren't these figs just beautiful! Look! Here's the butternut squash that I grew from one little seed. Amazing. My, my, my."

Response: ", my.....yes, that's nice." Grin ever so subtly as you back away. (A faint chuckle or giggle is quite appropriate here, yet do feign sincerity.)

    When I moved into my home on Birmingham's Southside, near Avondale Park, I found that I had a fig tree right at the back of the house, growing directly up and out, embracing the stairs to my deck. It is presently over two stories tall and I imagine ten feet or more in width at its widest point. By looking at the base and the larger branches, I imagine it's a rather old fig tree. Although not initially, I began to become aware of its offering each year, a bounty of fresh figs. (Surely, these are organic.) Some years, I have been unable to keep up with the harvest; some years have been lean. All that stated, now I hail the fig as a wonder and quite a gift.

     The fig season doesn't last that long. I would say that for two to three weeks during the summer, I can plan on gathering a pound or more of figs every morning. There is nothing quite like walking right onto the deck and picking figs from the top branches and also walking through the grass - barefoot - and picking them from every branch possible. Sometimes, they don't all make it back into the house - breakfast, don't you know. Fig trees have large, tough leaves and the branches tend to be quite flexible so I can pull a tall branch down to me for picking these succulent, juicy chunks of sweetness. So, here are two observations which in turn provide two lessons. See what you think.

1. Figs can hide in plain sight. It is only by moving around the tree and looking at multiple angles as well as under the leaves that I discover more of them. Those affords a wonderful moment for having playful discussions with the figs (when alone), almost like playing hide and seek. Did I really tell you that? 
    Lesson: Searching for answers to problems becomes easier if one considers multiple perspectives. The pay off can be sweet.

2. Figs are a favorite food for birds and squirrels and other creatures I'm sure. (I keep hearing about snakes; well, they can have some figs as well.) You can typically tell who or what has eaten or worked on a fig. If there is a neat, but pronounced hole in the bottom of the fig, it's likely a bird.

If the fig has been mauled to death, and there is but a shattered bit hanging from its branch, reminiscent of some horror flick, I should think that a squirrel had his way with said fig. Either way, I don't use those, but I do pick them and throw them out into the yard, thinking I am throwing my fellow creatures "off the scent".

     Lesson: Know that others have the same goals, needs and desires as we do (Knowing how others go about achieving such is worth noting - squirrels for example).

I remind myself that people and these creatures need food as well, and I have yet to see a squirrel at the check-out counter at the local Piggly Wiggly. (Yes, these stores exist - not just in a movie) So, if they eat a few, that's fine. I make a point to leave a number of ripe figs on the tree so the furry and winged ones can do their shopping as well. Side note: I've become aware that there are raccoons in my backyard now and then, yet I don't know if the fig tree could support their weight, and they also make an audacious racket when around.

So, the larger lesson for me is to know when I have plenty, enough; I don't have to have it all. 
For me, this is applicable to so many parts of life. 

I hope to share a few photos with you of the fig tree and figs - once I take them :) MANY thanks to "Bayou Woman" for her incredible recipe for fig preserves. I had more figs than I knew what to do with, so twelve  jars of fig preserves were the result of that concern. Fun to make and I was able to use my Mom's big canner/water bath/canning thingy pot.  

Thanks for reading. I hope you will respond and please become a follower of my blog. Themes range from the ordinary to the not ordinary and possibly the strange. A stream of consciousness may be a still, quiet stream of water or a babbling (I do mean babbling) brook or possibly raucous rapids. I just never know. Until then...

Peace to you.

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