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Waiting for figs

June 7, 2012 |  5:16 pm
FigsWill they still love me tomorrow? How about in two weeks?

Two years ago I planted a fig tree. Not just any fig tree, a Panachee fig tree. One whose fruit is a lovely lime and lemon tiger stripe on the outside and a luscious raspberry jam inside. The first year, we had two figs. The birds got the first.

After that, I checked the survivor every morning on my way to work to see whether it was ripe. Finally, the big day came: My fig was soft and juicy, with a small tear of syrup appearing at the bottom. It was so ripe it was just about ready to split from its own weight.

I carefully plucked it from the tree and cradled it gently as I hurried back into the house. "Kathy! Kathy!" I shouted to my wife. "Our fig is ripe!" No farmer has ever been prouder.

I split the fig in half and we shared it (I'm a good husband). It was exquisite. "Just wait until next year," I promised her. "We'll have figs like this every morning for breakfast."

Not so fast, farmer boy. Last year we got nothing. Zero. Not a trace. Had my fig tree given up on us? Was it withholding affection for some slight I had unknowingly committed? Maybe it had just been in a growth spurt? I sweated it out all winter, waiting for this, its third season.

My patience was rewarded. This year our little tree is full of figs (well, relatively speaking). They're still hard and underripe, but I'm optimistic. Now the problem is that I'm getting ready to leave on vacation. Sure, my daughter will be here keeping an eye out. And so will our neighbors.

But will they be sufficiently diligent? Will they mind my tree the same way I would? Will we have figs when I return? And what about the birds? I've let that mockingbird know that I counted 12 figs this morning and there had better be 12 when I get back.


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--Russ Parsons

Photo credit: Russ Parsons