From my earliest memories, my mother always had homemade fig preserves in the pantry. She would serve them at breakfast, along with her delicious, fresh, hot, homemade biscuits. Mmmmmmm…..
Fig Newtons were my favorite commercially available cookie, and were undoubtedly responsible for much of my adolescent obesity.
I also remember standing watch at our fig tree in the side yard, shooing the birds away from my future breakfasts. We all did our part. Mom would pick the figs everyday when in season. She would prepare them by trimming the stems and bad spots.
Then, she would put them into a big boiler and pour several cups of sugar over them. They would sit overnight as the natural juices were drawn out of the fruit combining with the sugar, creating a most heavenly elixir. The next day mom would cook the figs in their magic sugar bath until they were submerged in a light syrup.
My mother always had a fig tree in her yard. I took it for granted that everybody had figs, but learned the hard truth when I grew up. Not everybody likes figs, and very few people look forward to the tasks of growing, protecting and harvesting this Biblical, fruit.
When asked about her fig trees, mom said she would take a cutting from a fig tree, stick it into the ground and it would grow. She was like that. My mother could coax life out of a dead leaf if she tried.
Later, I learned that my mother would take a cutting off her old tree when moving to a new location, and “stick” the cutting into the ground. It took a while but I finally realized that she had been doing this for fifty or more years, and it is probable her original cutting came from my paternal grandfather’s fig tree in Mississippi.
This is the way families grow, and this is the way traditions are born. This is the way nations are made.
You start with something good, and perpetuate it throughout following generations. I can follow the lineage of those fig trees back for more than a hundred years, and it is possible that early cuttings were carried in the migration of my ancestors from North Carolina to Mississippi in the 1840’s in their quest for cheap, fertile land for themselves and their children.
As we have just observed an anniversary of 9/11, contemplating something that was done to us, we can take comfort in knowing who we are, where we are from, and what we are about.
God bless figs, and God Bless the United States of America.