Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fig Surprise

I came back to Brooklyn to find the most amazing surprise: a dish of figs on the kitchen table, from our backyard tree.

I once said I would move to California if it meant I could have a fig tree. Then I found out you could grow them in Brooklyn, and, most improbably and idealistically, planted one smack in the middle of my tiny sliver of shady backyard. The kind of fig tree we have likes to sprawl and take over a sizeable portion of land as it bakes in many brutal hours of sunshine. We had no space, and lots of shade. Hmm.

But I kept pruning the tree, and showing it its one narrow pathway up high into the sunny sky. Through the years our neighbors kept trimming back their centuries-old tree that canopies out backyard, and this summer -- lo and behold, after six years of mid-summer shriveled baby figs -- our six-year-old tree suddenly figured out how to bring its babes to late summer maturity. Lots of them.

I scarfed down the three figs my husband had picked. Then today, I pulled over a ladder and picked a handful more. My daughter joined in, pointing out figs I hadn't seen, and insisting on getting to pick some of her own.

Chickens on a barge? Yeah, whatever. I've got figs in my part-shade Brooklyn backyard. I am in heaven over this.

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