During the harvest season of 2016, we made a cold call in a neighborhood laden with fruit trees. The house we had stopped at was the proud owner of a beautiful front yard garden, newly planted Jujube trees lined the sidewalk offering dappled shade to the large tomatoes growing in neatly manincured raised beds. We really weren’t interested in doing any harvesting at this home as much as we were interested in just admiring the hard work and love which was so shininly obvious throughout the yard. Luckily for us, the homeowner was more than willing than willing to bend our ears and tell us her story.
It was through this conversation, we learned of Betty whom lived across the street and had a once legendary neighborhood fig tree. We jumped on the opportunity to not only harvest figs, but meet this long time neighborhood resident.
A knock on the door was answered by a woman with white hair, cut short with heavy curls. Betty could not have been more excited to meet us and show us to her fig tree. In recent years her fig tree had been cut back to control it’s wild growth, which in years past the tree had sprawled the entire back yard space. The tree was now merely a shadow of what it had once been but there were still fruits being nutured under her branches.
Betty, due to her age and lack of ramp could no longer leave her back porch. She happily stood by her back door, chatting as we plucked at the handful of ripe figs. Telling us stories of her life’s travels. She had raised her family in that house, seen the neighborhood grow and change.
With only a handful of ripe figs, we stood on her porch with her and chatted while we snacked on the days bounty. After about an hour it was decided Betty would call us when she believed the next set of figs were ready.
Exactly a week to the day Betty calls to let us know she believes there are more ripe figs. This began what would continue for the next month. Harvesting a handful of figs while chatting with Betty once a week. She was a spitfire, that one, so full of life; and had seen so much throughout her years. It was a delight each time. Eating figs and hearing stories.
This would become part of our weekly routine for the following month. This would also become part of our story, a very important piece to our story. A story, not about figs, but instead a story of humans and the connections we make while floating in space on a big giant rock.
This is for Betty, a wife, a mother, a friend, a giver, and a grower of figs who allowed us into her home and heart.