Growing up, I remember helping Poppop with his fig trees. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I recall sharing a fig or two with him . . . but that was a long time ago. For some reason, I went through a phase where I did not like figs at all. The sticky juice that oozed from each fig and the somewhat stringy, pulpy texture of the interior caused me to turn up my nose at the figs that Poppop worked so hard to grow and harvest.
Each winter he would painstakingly board up his two fig trees to protect them from harsh winter winds and bitter, icy snow. Showering those trees with love and devotion, Poppop coaxed fruit from the trees even when he thought that various damage had permanently rendered them barren.
Unbeknownst to me, his fig trees have been cared for, presumably by my uncle, during the past year and a half. Now is the time of the harvest, and it seems that the figs are plentiful this year. When my cousin forgot to take home an egg carton filled with ten of the ripened fruit on Friday, Mommom tried in vain to give them away.
Finally, I agreed to take them. In my mind, the worst that could happen was that I didn't like them. Bringing them to church would assure that someone would take the figs off my hands, especially since figs are generally so expensive. Whether I would enjoy them or not, I was going to try them in honor of Poppop. Since he could not be there to eat them with me, I would try to eat them alone . . . or at least taste one.
On my way home, I tentatively bit into one. Sweet juice filled my mouth. Surprised, I looked down at the inside of the tiny fruit and was amazed at its beauty. A nondescript, lightly fuzzed exterior encased a golden flesh which surrounded the most vibrant hummingbird red center. Tendrils like stamens of an exotic flower pointed their seeds toward the wine colored nucleus of the fruit.
Savoring the taste, I finished the rest of the fig slowly--making it last for several bites. How glad was I that, upon taking a chance, I had gained a new love. Figs are delicious, and they were even more succulent because they came from a tree that was loved by one whom I loved. Now I have yet another wonderful way to remember the great man who taught me so much.