After The Move

The fragility of the fruit is also part of its attraction. Stroke the ripest fig and it is as if you are touching flesh. Sniff it and not only is it summer but the hottest day, the air heavy and still, the earth beneath your bare feet cracked and dry. Sink your teeth in and you meet no resistance. Just soft, sumptuous flesh and tiny pearlescent seeds, little crimson beads that dissolve on your tongue.

–Nigel Slater, Ripe

As some of you know, we’ve moved house two times in the last year. The last move was in July, and I do hope it will be the last move we make. There are still unpacked boxes here and there, but our new home agrees with us very well and we are feeling settled. Books have been placed on shelves and pictures have been hung on the walls. I’ve bought fabric and sewn curtains. I’ve spent time in the garden, finding places for the plants I’ve brought with me through both moves. Among these plants is a Casa Blanca lily that flowered soon after we moved.

Rosemary-Fig Chicken with MarsalaOne of the great delights of the new place is the five fig trees we’ve inherited. Two of them are too young to bear fruit, but the other three provided us with perfect ripe figs from the day we moved in. What an amazing experience, to have so many figs that I was actually cooking with them: Fig Cobbler and Rosemary-Fig Chicken with Marsala. All this, living in a city where previously I have had to lay out $1.99 at the grocery store to purchase a single fig. We did have to share some of our figs with the raccoons, who left the fruit hanging on the trees with bite-size pieces missing. In the evenings, we could see the trees shaking from the raccoons’ fig-seeking activities.

After consultation with my dear daughter, I believe that these figs are a variety called “Desert King” which produces a “breba” crop in the spring on last year’s wood and a second, main crop in the fall. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the summer is too cool for the main crop to set so the breba crop is the only crop that will ripen. Our trees are still covered in tiny figs that will never get any bigger.

The fig is actually an inside out fruit. In other words the flower is on the inside of the fruit. Most figs are set parthenocarpically; i.e., without fertilization. There are some figs which require a specific wasp to pollinate the fruit.

Northern Alligator Lizard

Northern Alligator Lizard

Another delight of our garden is the population of lizards. These are Northern Alligator Lizards, small and shy. They basked on our patio whenever the sun came out, but darted quickly into their hiding places whenever anyone came their way. Twice in the course of the summer, a tiny lizard made its way into the house through the open door. The first time, we tried to coax the little creature onto a piece of paper so we could lift it outside without touching it. The lizard made this a very difficult job by twisting itself into knots and doing somersaults. The second time this happened, I found that I could eject the lizard simply by walking towards it while clapping my hands.

All in all, we are very pleased. Even in the midst of rain and wind, the garden is still beautiful, with tall ornamental grasses swaying wildly. There are quite a few plants here that I cannot identify. I will post some photos in my next post and maybe one of my readers can help me out.

"Lilies and Figs", watercolour and graphite, 12" x 16"

“Lilies and Figs”, watercolour and graphite, 12″ x 16″

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25 thoughts on “After The Move

  1. I have a fig tree here in Missouri, it is a hardy variety called Wild Turkey. It is such a luxury to be able to pick figs all summer. I freeze the excess whole, and they really thaw very nicely. I use them for smoothies and also for fruit compotes.

    I am very jealous of your lizards. I wish I had a population here. Last summer there was a little fence lizard I saw a couple of times in the front near my lavender. But I’m not sure one lizard counts as a population.

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    • Freezing the figs: I hadn’t thought of that! Thanks for a good idea.

      We’ve never lived anywhere with lizards before. If you’ve seen one, there could surely be more. Ours are quite reclusive.

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  2. Thanks for popping over, which helped me spot your new post. A trial, but a brilliant move. The last time I ate fresh figs I was in Elba having breakfast under a fig tree, such delight to just reach up ☼ Your watercolour and graphite image is beautiful. Plants talk to you.

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    • There is something ancient and dreamlike about figs and fig trees. I’m so glad you like the painting. Good thing the garden is so private: no one can see me having conversations with the plants!

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  3. Seems that you are in a wonderful place right now! Beautiful watercolor – it looks like a lily ‘Casa Blanca’ that I have. I am only familiar with the fig jam, but I shall try a recipe if I find to buy some good figs.

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    • The lizards are fascinating, and someone told me that they eat slugs. That would be a fine quality in a garden guest, though I think these lizards would have to get quite a bit bigger before they could eat the slugs we get here.

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    • I went to a Block Watch meeting and my new neighbours clued me in about the raccoons and the lizards. The lots here are big (for city lots), and almost everyone seems to be into gardening. I was told that I should always plant daffodils with tulips, to confuse the squirrels. The squirrels seem a little confused to me anyway: our cat chased one up the side of the house, where the poor creature (the squirrel, not the cat), clung to the stucco and trembled until I hauled the cat inside.

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  4. I’m so glad you have settled again. What a delight to have you back and to hear about your 5 fig trees! I have two, and I ran in the kitchen immediately and ate a couple. Your description is wonderful, and the recipes sound terrific. Perhaps you will share?

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    • Thanks, Kayti. One of the recipes is included in the post, though you may have to zoom to see it. I didn’t really have a recipe for the cobbler: I just chopped up some figs, put them in a buttered casserole dish with sugar and topped it all with a mixture of oatmeal, butter and sugar, all creamed together. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350 deg. F., or until the fig mixture is bubbling up through the topping. 🙂

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  5. Welcome back, Mrs Daffodil, I’ve missed your posts.
    That description of figs at the start is wonderful, it really made me think of figs in detail. How good that you have them in great supply.
    I’m happy to hear that you’re all settled in nicely to your new home.

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