Family History · Gardening

Figs

We always had fig bushes at my parents’ house. Grandmother Irene and Mama both loved them, making more preserves than we could eat or give away. I would say, “Mama, could we please have some grape jelly from the store? Please?”
My friends and I all knew how to pick the best fresh figs for a healthy afternoon snack that didn’t spoil our dinners–we peeled them by pulling on the stem and ate them right by the bush. Mama didn’t know and we didn’t wash our hands! As an adult, I learned to enjoy figs with savory foods, like in a salad or on a cheese board, but Mama kept making and giving away her preserves…she even used them as a fund-raising project when she was “Queen” of her Eastern Star Chapter.
I agree with Sabra about covering your skin when picking them–those prickly leaves do make one itch! Today, I enjoy figs when I can get them…we’re trying to revive the old fig tree we cut back after moving here a few years ago. Hopefully this year, there will be enough figs for us and the birds!

Later, Miss Slater

looking through my kitchen window

I notice my fig bush has grown
several feet since last summer

I can no longer pull down the top limbs
to harvest the ripe, brown fruit

when contemplating my figs, I usually think of
Middle Eastern markets, hillsides, and biblical stories

but today, I think of my mother
and her two great fig bushes

she canned fig preserves
delicious on her homemade, buttered biscuits

even the butter was homemade
when we lived on the farm

but the fig bush I thought of today 
was the one behind her well house

on the barren place we bought
after selling the farm

when lightning struck and killed her fig bush
she never planted another

to my surprise, she said she was allergic to the bush
and would get figs from friends

now it comes to me
I know what she meant

I’ve learned to suit-up with…

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