Yesterday was the last official day of fig hunting season. The season, which normally starts in late August was delayed this year until the beginning of October. It seems that there was a clerical error made with regards to the weather and temperature required to ripen the figs. In August, and into September, my tree, the hunting ground, was festooned with bright purple yet immature figs. Even though fig season had officially opened, the small ‘fry’ were not yet of a suitable size and rather than pluck and waste I decided to muck and wait. (Rhyming is not a perfect art.) So I mucked about in my yard waiting, just waiting until the weather turned.
This year it was a weather thing that delayed my hunt. Normally there is a first flush of figs in late July. An early promise of a more bountiful fall. This year the flush was faint. For the first time in many years I worried for my crop of nascent figlets. Every day from August through September I approached the hunting grounds barehanded. The best gleaning is done with bare hands. Any experienced fig hunter will tell you. The reason is this, one must gently, but firmly, grasp the fig and wiggle just so to see if mother stem has decided to unsuckle her young or not. This season my figlets took longer on their stems. The weather too cool to push them on.
Then it happened. One hot day after another. Each day I would race home with glee to watch fig after fig slowly begin to hang and drop on their branches. I was not there when it finally happened. I missed the very first fig drop, which signals to the remaining crop that the time is ripe. Fig season was finally upon us. The time immediately following the first fig drop is a busy time. Texts, emails and pones calls alerting all of those in Fig Club that the time is ripe to pick, pluck and plunder. But the season came late this year, and lasted only a brief time allowing only one member of Fig Club to hunt this season. You see, with a delayed start to the season the normal pacing of fig birth, growth and drop was thrown off schedule. My tree, festooned as it were, made for rapid ready ripeness as opposed the normal staggered birth, growth and ripening. By myself I was not able to harvest and keep so many figs leading to the unfortunate loss of at least half of my crop. (Sadness.)
This last New Year’s Day I lost my little dog as he traveled across the Rainbow Bridge. He was a spunky fellow who loved people as much as he loved his meals. He was short and stout in stature. Not build for fighting but perfectly able to provide a happy face and devour his twice daily meal. It was my normal tree trimming want to keep the lower branches clipped up to a height of about 5 feet so as to enjoy the shade of the broad and notorious fig leaves. One season I did not and the figs came in lower and closer to the ground and my little devour-er. I remember the first time I saw him stretch and stand on his hind legs to reach and snag his own fruit snack. In the years following I let the branches grow lower and lower and was pleased that my little man enjoyed fig hunting as much as I do. This year was not the same without him. My new dogs, the Replacements, do not enjoy the hunt. Meat and kibble with the occasional plate licking is what they desire. Fruit, not on their menu.
So it was with some renewed sense of loss, and sadness that my fig hunting skills will not survive me, that I write to you today. Yesterday was the last day of fig season. The last ripe fig, plucked from the tree and popped directly into my mouth was rich, warm and ripe to the point of a great fig newton. I miss my hunting companion and this year I will trim the tree high again so as to sit in her shade and wait another year for fig season to come.
Until next time,
Eat Well and Smile Often