In the backyard of my grandparents’ house on the island of Sardinia, off the western coast of Italy, there was a fig tree. There is a fig tree. It’s still there, even if bits of it live miles, oceans, continents away. A gnarled stump twists its way upward and gives way to big, dark green leaves like gecko palms. In unison they form a formidable army, a dense cloud under which hide tender and delicate fruits, summer’s final rain. The figs perch in groups of three or four, swelling at the bottoms, threatening to fissure under the weight of their juice.
Figs don’t reveal their beauty to the world. They flower inward instead of outward and the rosy squiggles that populate their centers are but unopened blooms that reach for each other rather than toward you. In that, they’re elusive. They don’t seek approval. An amber droplet might escape a fig when its sweetness is too much to contain, but otherwise it exists to be discovered.