Life

The Life and Times of a Fig Tree: A Reflection on Growth, Change and the Passage of Time

  When I was three or four years old, my mother brought back a small sapling from my grandma’s house and said it was a fig tree. She planted this small sapling in the circular flower bed on the patio of her grandma’s house.
  The sapling needs two thin bamboo poles to support it to stand upright, as if it is sick. It was no thicker than an adult’s finger, and it wasn’t much taller than I was at the time. If you don’t look carefully, there is no difference between them and two thin bamboo poles. They are both bare. Looking at its thin and small appearance, I thought to myself when I was young: Can it really grow into a tree?
  At first, my mother watered the sapling, and she seemed to have buried some chicken and fish bones, but then she didn’t care about it much. It could only adapt to the sunshine, soil quality, wind, frost, rain, snow, diseases and insect pests here on its own. …
  In two years, the originally weak saplings have grown almost as high as the eaves. Its strong branches and leaves like big hands gather together layer by layer to open a big green umbrella. This umbrella is really like the big umbrellas erected outside the ice cream shops in the market or on the side of the road.
  In early summer, when I looked up, I didn’t know when a lot of green “beans” had appeared on the fig tree. This gave our family a different look forward to that summer. Throughout the summer, the fig tree worked hard to absorb the sun and rain, and the fruits grew vigorously, getting bigger day by day.
  In September, when the sun is at its strongest, the temperature difference between day and night increases. For the fig tree, this is probably the last large-scale accumulation of energy before the fruit matures. The ping-pong ball-sized fruit has put on new yellow clothes, and its small red-purple mouth is opening wider and wider, as if it is shouting. : “Don’t worry, I’ll be ripe soon!”
  Around October 1st, the fig kept its promise, with its soft yellow belly bulging, and waited for our discovery eyes on the branches.
  I still remember the joy the whole family felt when the fig tree bore fruit for the first time, and everyone’s faces were filled with smiles. Adults and children came together, stepping on stools, jumping high, standing on tiptoes, picking this and picking figs, and several vegetable baskets were filled with figs.
  Picked up a fig, it was heavy. The skin of ripe figs is very thin and very delicate. When you hold it with a little force, it will wrinkle, and your hands will become sticky immediately. How to eat this? He pinched it with both hands and opened it. Ha, it turned out that the fig flower was hidden in its belly! The short tender red stamens are nestled together towards the center of the belly, densely packed with no gaps at all. How many flowers are hidden here!
  Take a big bite – it’s so sweet that it hits your throat! The figs are so sweet, and the flowers hidden in the belly must have done a lot of work. No wonder it doesn’t bloom outside. Figs taste soft, waxy and moist. It is not in the same category as “water” fruits such as apples, pears, oranges, and peaches. Instead, it should be placed in the “Duofulin” pastry shop in the village, and placed in the same category as Mi San Dao, Tao Su and other snacks.
  At that time, as soon as I heard movement outside the gate, I hurriedly ran over and opened the gate, warmly greeting everyone who came. Regardless of whether they are relatives, friends or neighbors, as long as they come into this courtyard, I will take the trouble to point to the big fig tree and say to them: “Look, there are so many figs, they are very sweet! Eat them quickly.” Have a try!”
  Spending a long time with the fig tree will not only bring out the sweetness of your taste buds, but also explore more interesting moments.
  The fig tree is my good partner when jumping rubber bands. It used its strong body to support the rubber band for me. The rubber band was pulled, stepped on, pulled, and entangled by the jumping legs. The fig tree was also pulled to its side, and the branches and leaves trembled, making bursts of rustling sounds. Fortunately, its roots are deep enough and its body is strong enough, so it can tolerate my wanton play.
  The fig tree is an excellent musician. I like to sit by the window when it rains and listen to the rain hitting the big and thick leaves of the fig tree, making a “crackling” sound. There is a special smart rhythm that seems to beat out a sound in people’s hearts. Blossoming crystal water flowers. I really want to take shelter under the fig tree.
  The fig tree provides a passage for flight, connecting me with the blue sky and clouds. I love to leap up and touch the leaves high up on the fig tree. Every time I do this childish challenge, the wings in my heart continue to flap for a while, and the distance between me and the sky seems to be shortened.
  Some people say that figs can remove acne. One year, my mother and sister developed acne on their hands and faces. My mother got the recipe from somewhere, saying that fig juice can cure it. When you break off the green leaves of the fig and the stem end of the immature small green fruit, a milk-like juice will flow out, which is very sticky to your hands and can even sting you after it dries. My mother and sister broke it off and wiped it off every day, but to no avail. I have been struggling for so long in vain, and I have suffered so much. If you are sick, you still have to go to the hospital.
  The fig tree is actually just an ordinary fruit tree. When I was young, I imposed my immature fantasies about the world on it, trying to discover non-existent mysteries in it.
  After a few years, my parents became increasingly busy with work and I also had a heavy workload, so the frequency of visits to my grandma’s house was reduced to once a week. My mother, who loves figs the most, has no intention of picking figs. The fig trees were getting more and more gorgeous in their autumn attire, but people were losing interest in the event. Is this autumn festival founded by the fig tree about to disappear?
  Won’t. The animals disagreed. In the past, they had rarely had the opportunity to taste figs, but now they finally had the opportunity to feast on them.
  The sparrows were chirping non-stop, their two small claws firmly grasping the branches, and they were digging into the fig hawks one after another with their sharp beaks. They seemed to want to take up residence in the fig tree. The usually noisy screams seemed to be stained with the sweetness of figs at this time, and became pleasant to the ears. They seemed to be calling more companions: “It’s so delicious, come on!”
  Bees, wasps, flies, and ants were flying and crawling around in a buzzing manner. The tentacles collided with each other, the wings rubbed back and forth, the slender little hands hugged the figs and refused to let go, and the feet were stuck to the sugar in the figs and could not walk, which would be more to their liking. The fig has turned into a magic gourd of the gods. As soon as the mouth is opened and the wind blows, without even calling out its name, the insects rush to get into the gourd and refuse to come out.
  If I had been a bird or a bug at the time, I don’t think I would have missed this lively festival. Even if I don’t like figs originally, I will be infected by my companions and eat a few more than usual to enjoy this rare fragrance and sweetness in the world.
  This boundless joy spread among animals, for grandma, is a trouble that makes her sigh. Grandma has always been clean and tidy, but she can’t stand the sight of birds flying, insects crawling, and fruits falling in the patio.
  In the past, grandma always asked my father to cut branches on Sundays when he was resting, because the outstretched branches grew along the tiles of the roof. The father stepped on a stool, holding a small ax for chopping wood, and chopped off the high branches of the fig tree. However, the vitality of the fig tree is too strong, and the speed of cutting it often cannot keep up with its growth speed. My father was not always free, so my grandma would seize the opportunity to let her cousin chop her. She stood under the eaves, frowned, put up a pergola with her hands and commanded: “Cut it over there too, don’t want it anymore, don’t keep it.”
  One Sunday, I went to my grandma’s house as usual. As soon as I entered the door, I saw a bare tree trunk standing there blankly in the patio, with the yellow-white color exposed on the top particularly conspicuous. I stood at the door and forgot to enter. It took me a long two or three seconds to realize that the entire crown of the fig tree had been chopped off. I always thought it would just be cut off the excess branches and leaves.
  The trunk of the fig tree is integrated with the stone walls of the house and the cement floor of the patio, making it look gray and calm. It became a stone statue with its head and arms taken away, leaving only a mutilated body. Its solidified emptiness was suffocating. Is this moment the most painful for the fig tree? I have no way of knowing. Human beings cannot communicate with the joys and sorrows of a tree.
  When I was young, I never knew that change is the eternal theme of life.
  The fig tree seemed to have returned to the state of having nothing when it first came to the patio.
  Soon, nails were driven into the smooth trunk of the fig tree, and grates and brooms were hung on them.
  The calls of sparrows become distant, and the traces of bees, wasps and flies are hard to find. However, the ants are still crawling on it, looking a little anxious, but they are not in large groups, but alone and lonely.
  When the autumn sunshine falls, will the fig tree subconsciously stretch out its phantom limbs and open its palms, trying to catch the splashing sunshine like before, tossing and turning, splashing the light spots like water droplets and scattering them everywhere? ?
  The north wind blows, the snow falls, and the fig trees can no longer provide them with a resting corner. There was a crack at the lower end of the trunk before it was cut, revealing the yellow-reddish phloem inside. The hole was getting bigger and bigger, making it look more conspicuous. The fig tree no longer seems to be as straight and straight as in the impression. It is leaning forward, with a bent waist and a hunched back, as if it will fall over at any time.
  I silently guessed that the fig tree might not be able to withstand the snow and frost this year. Perhaps before long, it will be uprooted, chopped and chopped, and thrown into the stove to be burned as firewood.
  But the fig tree never goes the way I guess.
  The next spring, the part of the fig tree that had been chopped down by the ax stretched out straight twigs and sprouted a few young leaves that looked like small flowers. Later, small buds sprouted from the bottom of the trunk, like a pool of green water.
  The fig tree is making a new spring.
  It is neither silent nor giving up on itself. It still has the momentum it had ten years ago, using the tenacity of life to present a greenery that cannot be ignored. The newly grown delicate branches and leaves are like the necklaces and belts worn by the Buddha statue. The head and arms are beyond repair, but people can still imagine its once prosperous and gorgeous charm.
  The fig tree grew in this majestic posture for many years.
  When I was a sophomore in college, the village was demolished. That year was a non-stop year.
  Many things in the patio were thrown away and sold, and the tenants moved out one after another and looked for other places. Grandma was also taken away from the bungalow where she had lived for decades and walked out of the courtyard. Eventually it was empty, leaving only the walls of the house and the patio itself.
  If demolished, everything would be knocked down, including the fig trees of course.
  At that time, I was studying abroad and did not witness this historical moment. I don’t know what the fig tree looked like in the end. Was it chopped down first, flattened by bulldozers, or knocked down by falling bricks from houses? Will it fall all at once? If not, wouldn’t it have to suffer a lot?
  Either way, I think it’s going to fall straight down. Because it lives straight, it will die straight.
  Fig Tree finally contributed to the demolition funds. It was discounted to two hundred dollars.
  When we moved to a new house last year, my mother planted another fig sapling. The delicate sapling reminded me inevitably of the fig tree I once had. This little seedling has grown crookedly from the beginning, and no matter how hard you pull it, it won’t work. Later, the mother simply ignored him and left him to fend for himself.
  I don’t know what kind of growth will happen this time.

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