There’s a gorgeous and bountiful fig tree in my neighborhood. It’s in the back corner of a yard that backs onto a public footpath, and the tree’s branches hang over the fence on two sides. I discovered it last year, in the height of the fig season, when birds, bees, and bugs were eagerly devouring the fruit and dozens of overripe figs littered the ground. With a little research, I learned how to tell when figs were ripe and picked a few to share with my writer group on the day I shared with them a Jesus through the Eyes of Others story about Jesus and the fig tree.
This year’s figs are now beginning to ripen on that tree, and I picked a couple to savor on my morning walk last week. After taking a nice, big bite, I looked at what was left and was struck with a sense of how the inside of the fig, with its empty center and miniature hanging seeds, resembled both a geode and an underground cavern like those at Carlsbad Caverns in southern New Mexico.
Carlsbad Caverns holds a special place in my heart. Every year, the fifth graders at my elementary school went on a full-day field trip to the caverns. We left before dawn, traveling five hours each way on the bus to enjoy two or three hours in the caverns itself, including a cafeteria lunch in one of the caves. From this vantage point, I don’t have a clue how the chaperones kept us in line for ten hours on the bus, but I do recall with awe and wonder the caverns themselves.
I’d love to be out and about this year, exploring caverns and mountains and other amazing elements of the natural world. I keep talking with Henry about my desire, for example, to see the glaciers in Alaska before they all melt away. But we’re sticking close to home this year because of the pandemic. It doesn’t make sense to travel when we’re doing such a poor job of suppressing COVID-19 in America.
So, I get to travel in my mind and my memories. Figs remind me of caverns, and of cracking open geodes with hammers in the parking lot outside a national park store. The taste of figs reminds me of making fig jam and of splurging on fresh figs when I first moved here to Tucson.
I’d love to go visit my parents in the Rocky Mountains again this year, but wisdom says, “Stay home.” Instead, I’m opening the eyes of my heart to find new perspectives and connections with nature’s beauty right here at home.
If you are self-quarantining, what new perspectives and connections can you make with nature in your own home or yard? If you’re able to travel safely, give thanks to God for that gift!
This post brought a smile to my lips… My dad really liked figs. When we moved into our first “real house” – ie one my parents bought in Jacksonville, Florida – not an apartment – and not Navy housing – but our own real house – he planted a fig tree… and grape vines. He was so excited! He knew he would have to wait a long time to see and enjoy the fruit of his labor…. and wait he did. More time than usual; more trials than usual because my sister and I were both learning about “yard work” One of us consistently mowed down the emerging tree or the vines. (“It looked like a weed daddy!) and he would just sigh and say… “it will come back” . He would patiently put up new, bigger, brighter stakes so we could not possibly run over his precious plants. I don’t think the grapes every really stood a chance. Not only were they between what seemed like “invisible” wires, and hence mowed down often, but the Florida soil just did not seem conducive. The fig tree did eventually grow to a short shrub and those fuzzy leaves did eventually yielded a few figs that we all savored. He was really the only one who ENJOYED them- the texture was more than I could tolerate at that young age. Now when I eat figs I remember – as I did when I read this post – what a loving and tender teacher my dad was. I finally learned how to mow safely and carefully!
My (August) plans to travel to California for my grandsons first birthday have all been put on hold. Too many risks, too many players wanted to gather – some very vulnerable and some not so careful or conscientious about precautions. I am trying to channel the patience my dad demonstrated all those years ago and trust that the days will come back to normal at some point. Given time I will be able to celebrate with Cade in person and not just electronically! In the mean time I am grateful for technology – and your thought provoking posts!
Wow, Joyce, what a great story! I’m glad that my post brought back good memories and the lessons contained therein. Yes, it’s difficult not to travel, and wise to make cautious decisions. I’m grateful that technology brought you my post, and such a great chain of memories!
I like it when individuals get together and share opinions. Great site, continue the good work!
Thank you. Blessings on your conversations!