The fig tree

In the garden of the house I grew up in, there’s this fig tree. Maybe young grandma planted it, in the late 30es, shortly after the house was built.

Winters here are often cold: there’s -18°C outside now. So, every once in a while, the fig tree doesn’t make it to spring. Every time I see the withered branches, I think to myself ‚So, this time it’s over.’

Somehow, we never even liked eating its fruit: they take so long to ripen, looking indecent all summer, in their shrivelled green skins.

Every time the tree withers, after a few weeks, an amazing little sprout shows up in the ground, just a few inches away from the old stem. It takes 3-4 years to grow back to the size you can see in the picture. By that time, next winter will be a cold one…

I never understood the fig tree parable in the bible. It seemed like a stub: some crucial information must have been left out, so the story makes no sense to me. Why curse the fig tree for not bearing fruit, if it wasn’t the season for figs anyway?

Once I read about Sylvia Plath’s fig tree.

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” – from The Bell Jar, 1963

For such a long time I felt just like this. There were so many attractive options and – I was scared that choosing one meant, I’d decide against all the other ones.
Fortunately, I do not feel like that anymore.

The fig tree is not old, because it always starts anew. There were times when it came out again about 4 meters away from where it once stood. But it did – and it’s the same, somehow: it never forgets about spring and never looses the wonderful shape of its leaves.

It taught me this wonderful thing: it doesn’t really matter what you choose, as long as you keep on doing stuff. You’ll find your way. All in good time, it said.