Some years ago a friend whose mother came from Greece, Sparta to be exact, gave me two of her trees. I planted one in the front yard and one by the house. Today the one in the front yard has been beaten back by the killing frost each year, so it has to renew its limbs each year and remains today what looks like a large bush with bare ribs sticking out, the skeleton from last year’s winter.
But the other tree, sheltered by the house and also conveniently next to the heat vent from our gas furnace has grown larger and larger, a real fig tree from Sparta. I often wonder what ancient Greeks ate from the parents of this tree. Sparta was a warrior culture that gives us the word Spartan, one who can get by with little. And the Spartans saved Athens and the rest of Greece from the scourge of Persia, like Steve Jobs Mac saved us from the faceless IBM man of 1984.
Today my figs are ripe and I pick them to go with our breakfast. Nothing from the front yard though. These are mild sweet figs, and only the ants are challenging me for them, but then they only like the over ripe ones that have burst their seams. We have no fig eating birds here apparently, and they must be too easy a meal for the squirrels who expect to work for their nut meals.
My Fig trees from Sparta activate my mythological mind, the poet within. One tree that the town sees looks barren, if a tree at all. The other tree hidden from the street is rich and bears figs daily here on Facebook where I have planted it.
So if you pluck what I write and find it sweet, full of rich mythological insights straight from ancient Sparta then help yourself. The more you pick, the more figs grow. For those that just pass by my house thinking there are no figs there, well, that’s their tough luck. “What, figs don’t grow in Blackstone,” they say. “The winter is too cold. He ought to pull that ugly bush.”