In our yard there’s a huge fig tree. About eight years ago, one of the Labs chewed the branches down to the stump. We assumed it wouldn’t come back, but despite its having been chomped to smithereens, it has grown back vigorously, and each summer we get great piles of figs. The tree is probably fifty feet tall now, and provides fabulous shade. Since I love fig jam, I’ve been (mostly) happy to see it produce so much.
During the first couple of years the tree sputtered out some fruit and I made fig jam. My first year, I yielded maybe four or five precious pints which I gave as treasured gifts to Wisconsin friends who spread it on French bread with brie—while sitting on blankets by a lake imagining they were actually French when they are in truth, German and Polish (but the jam doesn’t go with braunschweiger). Years two and three the yield went up, maybe to three or four quarts—enough so that I still have some of last year’s jam unopened in the pantry. This is partly because the number of Weight Watchers points in an ounce of brie is a double-digit figure. And, because mailing the stuff from Nevada to Wisconsin is irritating.
I checked the fig tree a few weeks ago, and we’re in for a deluge. This is what I wished for, right?
Hmm. You see…. If you don’t pick the figs, they fall to the ground, which in our case is partly a concrete patio. There, they are first set upon by biting ants, then stepped on by dogs and visitors who track them into the house, where the fig-ant-mush sticks to the carpet in a manner not unlike pine tar. I am chained to the branches of this tree (figuratively) and wondering why I wished for this. Brie! Who can afford it?! Fig jam! But I’m German….
I think of the state of my sandals. They are covered in this stuff; like spackle, fig-ant-mush has worked its way into the treads on my soles, and is now snaking up toward the Velcro closures. Just yesterday one of the dogs was trying to lick the sweetness off the edge of my sandal and ended up lathering my ankle with it. WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO ENCOURAGE FIGS, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD?
Last night I sat down with a table knife to de-gunkify my sandals. The temperature was still around 100 degrees, and in the dark, the occasional flash of heat lightning beyond the fig tree would startle me. I wondered about the super-abundance of this gift from God and why we as people sometimes don’t know how much we already have when we are already praying for more. I thought about John the Baptist and Christ and thought, “well, if Christ was walking among fig trees, no wonder John didn’t want to carry his sandals!” We are overwhelmed with abundance and we are blind to it.
Our desert Fathers (and Mothers) came to the desert seeking solitude and meaning, and when the still night heat makes it hard to breathe in the darkness, it’s easy to understand how your thoughts turn to God and to ancient questions about our purpose in life. Tonight, I learned one purpose of mine is to glorify God for the incredible abundance he has granted us…. even when it’s raining figs.
Liese Peterson lives in Nevada with her husband and three swimming dogs. She is an international businesswoman and enjoys writing about her experiences as a convert to Catholicism.
Liese is a regular contributor and guest blogger—view her previous post, Manna From Heaven, Food From the Ground: A Reflection on My Desert Garden, here. She recently wrote an article for the Spring 2017 issue of the CRL Magazine, Eating is a Moral Act: Restoring Right Relationships with Food & Land. This issue highlights personal stories and movements around the country seeking to heal the brokenness in our relationship with nature and food. Preview the magazine here and purchase a copy here.