I’ve always liked fig bar cookies but I never thought much about the seedy fruit wrapped inside them till just four years ago. We were in Florida visiting Mary Baxley, a friend of Dad’s. She had a fig tree in her back yard. It just happened figs were in season. Mary’s grandson picked a handful of fresh figs and brought them into our midst where we were seated in her living room.
The figs weren’t a tempting fruit to look at (although I’ve since come to think they’re beautiful). Their dark color, in most fruits, would signal they were going bad, but the purple-brown richness, filled with grainy seeds, is pretty delectable to me.
That day, in Florida, I ate my first fresh fig and decided it would be the beginning of a new relationship. Here was one of nature’s sugars at its best and for 50 years I’d missed it.
The trouble with fresh figs is, for an Ohioan, they never seem to be in season. My fig passion died a bit until last month. At my garden club meeting, Norma, from Meadowbrook Nursery near Lisbon, had made an extensive study of plants from the Bible and their uses. Figs and the fig tree rated right near the top as the plant mentioned most.
Norma brought examples of the plants she was talking about. One of them was a fig tree. She mentioned casually, within my earshot, that she would be selling it since it had grown beyond what she wanted to handle at the nursery. Of course, I was already rationalizing that it was smaller than several of the largest houseplants I’ve had. It was a variety supposedly hardy in my Zone 5.
A Yankee fig tree? There it sat in all its true, natural sweetness, bearing a handful of small figs. They were dead ripe. When Norma heard my enthusiasm about the tree, she encouraged me to pick some before they fell off and she threw them out. That’s all I needed to hear. The tiny figs were in my hand a second later; one was so soft it was almost gooey. It would have to be eaten first.
Aahhh! The seedy, sugary goodness was mine again. I told Norma I would have to buy the tree. She said she’d winter it over in their greenhouse. Late next summer, maybe I’ll have my own small fig supply. Sweet dream.